Mayor’s Office Kicks-Off Disability Mentoring Month
In honor of Disability Mentoring Day (DMD), a national program highlighting NOVEMBER as National Disability Employment Awareness Month and hosted by the American Association for People With Disabilities (AAPD), the New York City Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities (MOPD) will host a number of mentoring activities, demonstrations and a kick-off breakfast to be held at Tavern on the Green. This year’s DMD will pair approximately 150 disabled student and job-seeker mentees with participating public and private organizations acting as mentors for a day-long job shadowing experience, which provides the mentees a professional environment to observe a typical workday, identify necessary skills to advance career development and learn about possible internships or employment prospects. Mentees will receive invaluable exposure in such areas as architecture, law, banking, building maintenance, social services, clerical and the arts, while their mentors will also provide them with guidance and positive leadership.
“People with disabilities are contributors to our City’s civic, economic, and cultural life,” said Matthew Sapolin, Commissioner of MOPD. “The Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities seeks to ensure that employers recognize that people with disabilities are an invaluable resource to the city’s workforce. By bringing disabled students and job-seekers together with potential employers, we can strive for greater inclusion of this often overlooked population.”
To kickoff DMD, MOPD is hosting a breakfast at Tavern on the Green, which will be attended by many of the participating mentors and mentees before the workday begins. The breakfast will be sponsored by disaboom.com, American International Group, Inc. (AIG), Enable America and AAPD. Keynote remarks will be delivered by Terry Austin, Chief Diversity Officer of AIG.
As an additional part of DMD activities, MOPD will kick off a new mentoring partnership with American Honda Motor Company, Inc. (Honda), Vantage Mobility International (VMI) and Accessible Vans and Mobility (AVM). MOPD will be accepting a donation by Honda of two (2) wheelchair-accessible Honda Odysseys, both of which having been retrofitted by the mobility conversion company VMI for official use by MOPD and the Mayor’s Office of Veterans Affairs. In addition to the donation of the accessible vehicles, Honda, VMI and AVM will take part in a mentoring initiative aimed at exploring accessible/sustainable transportation solutions, and will develop a handicapped parking awareness campaign.
“These vans are an incredible gift and asset to the City of New York,” said Commissioner Sapolin. “Through this donation, we will be able to make a significantly positive impact on people’s lives.”
“Giving people a hands-on experience with mobility technology is powerful education,” said Doug Eaton, CEO of VMI. “Our mission is to give people a sense of the options available to help people with disabilities continue to live very mobile lives.”
The mentoring initiatives will provide disabled New Yorkers who have an interest in automotive design/engineering, mechanics, marketing and public relations with an opportunity to work on a specific project aimed at future possibilities, consistent with PlaNYC 2030, for mitigating critical obstacles to accessible and sustainable transportation, an issue that the partners in this endeavor are committed to exploring. Participants will also have the opportunity to enhance MOPD’s Handicapped Parking Education Program by providing the expertise and mentoring to create a comprehensive campaign.
A number of disabled students and job seekers will be mentored by the sponsors of the “Ramp Up Your Awareness” campaign, which will be highlighted during DMD through a number of accessibility-based demonstrations throughout the City. Ramp Up Your Awareness is an educational and interactive event focusing on mobility technology and Disability Etiquette. The Ramp Up Your Awareness events will feature the Honda Odysseys, together with the VMI Northstar conversion, that will be displayed at Lincoln Center, City Hall Park and Central Park near Tavern on the Green. Each location will also feature entertainment showcasing the unique abilities of several New York groups, including rap group 4-Wheel City and the New York United Spinal Jets. United Spinal and TiLite Wheelchairs, who serve as partners in Ramp Up Your Awareness, will also be on hand to educate participants on Disability Etiquette and other mobility products.
Year round, the Mayor’s Office for People With Disabilities, under the leadership of Commissioner Matthew Sapolin, works hand-in-hand with other City agencies to ensure that the voice of the disabled community is represented and that City programs and policies address the needs of people with Disabilities. According to US Census figures, there are over 50 million people living with disabilities in the United States and only 29% work full time as compared with 79% of people without disabilities.#