Former NBA Legend, Olden Polynice, Named Ambassador For “31” In Observance Of National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM) This October
Olden Polynice #30 of the Los Angeles Clippers watches the action from the bench during the NBA preseason game against the Golden State Warriors at The Arena in Oakland on October 19, 2003 in Oakland, California. (Photo by Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images)
Olden Polynice once again will serve as the ambassador for the “31” in honor of National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM). Unknown to most, Olden Polynice was born with a disability that caused his feet to turn inwards and was diagnosed to never walk. Instead he beat the odds and was able to live up to his names moniker (victory) and played professional basketball for 17 years, 15 in the NBA.The “31” annual awareness campaign is held each October during NDEAM to educate the community about disability employment issues and celebrate the many contributions American workers with disabilities have made to our great nation and workforce. “31” also aims to encourage employers to not only pledge to include individuals with disabilities in the workforce, but for 31 days, take action and employ qualified individuals with disabilities, thus taking the movement to the next level. Individuals with disabilities, employers and supporters are encouraged to participate in the campaign via www.31days.org.National Disability Employment Awareness Month began in 1945, when Congress enacted a law declaring the first week in October each year “National Employ the Physically Handicapped Week.” In 1962, the word “physically” was removed to acknowledge the employment needs and contributions of individuals with all types of disabilities. In 1988, Congress expanded the week to a month and changed the name to National Disability Employment Awareness Month.”My Disability Is One Part of Who I Am” This year’s theme encapsulates the important message that people with disabilities are just that — people,” said Jennifer Sheehy, acting assistant secretary of labor for disability employment policy. “And like all people, we are the sum of many parts, including our work experiences. Disability is an important perspective we bring to the table, but, of course, it’s not the only one.”
The 2015 theme echoes the ODEP-funded Campaign for Disability Employment’s “Who I Am” television public service announcement, currently in national distribution. This announcement features nine diverse people with disabilities — some obvious and some not — sharing the many ways they describe themselves, from personal interests to family relationships to occupations. Among them is actor RJ Mitte, known for his work on AMC’s critically acclaimed series “Breaking Bad.”
For more information about NDEAM, including specific ideas for how different types of organizations can participate, visit www.dol.gov/odep/ and select “National Disability Employment Awareness Month” from the drop-down menu, to view the “Who I Am” PSA.
Reflecting this year’s theme throughout the month, Polishing The Professional will engage in a variety of activities with the “31” campaign to educate employers and the community on disability employment issues and the role they play in fostering a disability-friendly work culture. These efforts include:
• 31 Ambassadors Former NBA players Olden Polynice & Rayvone Douthard, proud individuals with a disability, will be available for interviews and speaking engagements.
• 31 Days Famous: Fact sharing on famous people who have a disability or are related to someone who does to demonstrate how normal disability is.
• Assist employers to post employment opportunities and receive FREE job placement assistance to hire individuals with disabilities throughout the nation through Polishing The Professional which has contracts with the county, state and federal government agencies to advance employment for individuals with disabilities.
• The availability of www.31Days.org, a website where employers, employees and supporters can share and access valuable information about NDEAM, take the pledge & take action.
• Supporters can sign their names on our Wall of Fame to show their support for equality in the workplace.
• Lead the conversation about disability on 31 days project respective social media pages.
• Post positive information about recent hiring of individuals with disabilities, activities planned for NDEAM during the month of October.
• Provide information on how to keep personal information & disability status private.
• Provide 31 daily activities for employers, employees and supporters via www.31days.org.
• Host a national online “Success Party.” Employers, employees and supporters are to post photos/videos of their successful activities during NDEAM, such as number of new hires.
“Polishing The Professional is proud to be a part of this year’s National Disability Employment Awareness Month,” said Davina Douthard, CEO. “We want to spread the important message that a strong workforce is one inclusive of the skills and talents of all individuals, not only of multi- cultural and gender balance, but one which includes individuals with disabilities.”
Employers and employees in all industries can learn more about how to participate in “31” by visiting the website at www.31days.org and the National Disability Employment Awareness Month and ways they can promote its messages — during October and throughout the year — by visiting the ODEP website at www.dol.gov/odep/.