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Mayor Parker Kicks Off 4th Annual Disability Awareness Month Festivities – Awards Presented to Citizens for Outstanding Service to People with Disabilities

October 5, 2012. Houston Mayor Annise Parker kicked off Disability Awareness Month today at the Metropolitan Multi-Service Center, 1475 W. Gray. The fourth annual celebration was sponsored by the Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities (MOPD), the Houston Parks and Recreation Department and community partners.

The program featured opening comments by Mayor Parker, greetings from Christine Ha, who is blind and is the winner in this year’s third season of MasterChef, and a keynote speech by Bill Klein, star of TLC network’s reality show “The Little Couple.”

The program honored outstanding citizens who have played a significant role in addressing and removing barriers for people with disabilities. The Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities presented the True Blue Award to Ellen J. Goudeau and Tina Williams, for their service as members of the Houston Commission on Disabilities and their support of MOPD activities. MOPD presented the CARE Award to Robert “Dale” Ramos, in recognition of his volunteer work at the Metropolitan Multi-Service Center, which serves persons with disabilities, Keller Williams Realty Metropolitan for its work on RED Day 2012, and LyondellBasell for its work on Global Care Day 2012 and free legal clinics. The Special Care Advocate Award was presented to Claire D. Shynett for her many years of service with Mental Health Mental Retardation and to MOPD staff member Alvita McKinny for her caring dedication assisting citizens with disabilities.

The celebration featured entertainment by performers from the disability community, including music, dance, pantomime and a “Warriors Champions” film clip for an audience that included government officials, community partners and members of the disability community.

The objective of the October celebration is to raise public awareness of the positive contributions of Americans with disabilities. This year’s theme is “Inclusion treasures diversity and builds community.” According to the U.S. Census Bureau, nearly 20 percent or about one of every five Americans have some level of disability. In the Greater Houston area, there are an estimated 600,000 people with disabilities, based on the 2010 Census.

The month’s scheduled events are sponsored by MOPD in partnership with the Houston Parks and Recreation Department, Houston Public Library and numerous community partners. Participating entities include: Workforce Solutions, Veterans Administration, Harris County Department of Education/CASE, MHMRA/Collaboration for Action/BAG, Houston Volunteer Lawyers Program, South Texas College of Law, METRO, DARS Division of Blind Services, Texas Governor’s Committee on People with Disabilities, The River Performance Troupe and Down Syndrome Association of Houston’s Pantomime Troupe, among others.

The Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities is a division of the Department of Neighborhoods. To learn more about the department, visit: www.houstontx.gov/neighborhoods.

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Disability Awareness Month – October 2012Highlights – Upcoming Events

For a full calendar: www.houstontx.gov/disabilities 713-284-1990

“Out of the Shades,” Mural Unveiling & Reception
Tuesday, October 9, 12:30 – 1:30 p.m.
City Hall Annex, 901 Bagby, Houston TX 77002
Houston City Council member C.O. “Brad” Bradford will unveil a mural titled “Out of the Shades,” by local artist Doyle Burley. The mural depicts the many faces of people with disabilities, including members of the Houston community. A reception will follow. The mural will be on display at several event sites during October.

National Disability Employment Awareness Job Fair
Thursday, October 11, 9 a.m. – 2 p.m.
Metropolitan Multi-Service Center, 1475 W. Gray, 77019
This job fair will be hosted by Workforce Solutions, Veterans Administration, City of Houston and other entities.

Disability Awareness FairSaturday, October 13, 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.
West Oaks Mall, 2600 Highway 6 South, Houston, TX 77082
Sponsored by MHMRA/Collaboration for Action/BAG, the fair will provide health and education information and other resources for persons with disabilities.

Career Mentoring Day Houston Kick-off Reception
Tuesday, October 16, 12 noon – 1:30 p.m.
City Hall Annex, 1st Floor, 901 Bagby Street, Houston, TX 77002
Forty-eight individuals with disabilities who have gone through a career mentoring program will be introduced as guests of honor at this reception. The program participants received assistance in the preparation of resumes. They were instructed on how to conduct job searches and coached on how to prepare for interviews. They also benefited from makeovers and were provided with professional wardrobes by Dress for Success Houston. In the days that follow, they will “shadow” professionals at various City of Houston offices and other work settings to gain insights on different careers. This “send-off” reception celebrates the participants’ aspirations, accomplishments and courage as they prepare for careers, gainful employment and self-reliance.

“White Cane Safety Day” Downtown March, Resource Fair & Celebration
Tuesday, October 23, 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.
Downtown Houston
This event calls attention to the iconic white cane, a tool used for safety and mobility by people who are blind or visually impaired. The event starts at 10 a.m., with a “White Cane March,” from Main Street Square at 914 Main Street to the steps of City Hall, Walker @ Smith. Houston Mayor Annise Parker will present a City Proclamation in observance of Disability Awareness Month 2012. A resource fair and celebration will follow in the City Hall reflection pool area, featuring information booths, displays and exciting performances.

Library Themed Display, Storytime & Other Activities
Dates in October
Houston Public Library – Central Library & Selected Branch Libraries
The Houston Public Library will host special displays and activities at the Central Library and selected branch libraries. The offerings will include themed book displays, themed storytime, storytime with sign language translation, a Braille presentation and a special performance by a pantomime troupe. For dates and locations, see the full calendar of events.

Contact:
Evangelina Vigil
evangelina.vigil@houstontx.gov
832.393.0832

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