Governor Spitzer and Lieutenant Governor Paterson Proclaim March Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month

Press Release

Date: March 4, 2008


Month-Long Celebration of "Success Stories" of Individuals with Disabilities to be Held in Albany

Governor Eliot Spitzer and Lieutenant Governor David A. Paterson today proclaimed March Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month, honoring the tens of thousands of people in New York State who live with developmental disabilities, their contributions to the state, and the families, friends, caregivers, and advocates who support them.

The New York State Office of Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities (OMRDD) will host a month-long exhibit in Albany chronicling the history of disabilities in New York State and celebrating the "success stories" of individuals with developmental disabilities.

"New York leads the nation in ensuring that persons with developmental disabilities are provided critical support through carefully designed and innovative programs," said Governor Spitzer. "We have seen bold advancements in the rights of people with developmental disabilities and we must continue working to expand opportunities. As we applaud these achievements we must also commend the family members and caregivers who play an integral role every day in helping individuals with developmental disabilities lead productive lives."

The exhibit will run from March 5 through March 31 in the Empire State Plaza's South Concourse in Albany. It will feature displays from the Museum of disABILITY History near Buffalo and profiles of accomplished individuals with developmental disabilities.

Lieutenant Governor David A. Paterson said: "As a society we now know that a developmental disability no longer means that an individual cannot achieve his or her dreams and contribute to society. In fact, we have come to realize the exceptional contributions people with disabilities can, and do, make every day. This awareness month established by Governor Spitzer is a time to reflect on these contributions."

OMRDD Commissioner Diana Jones Ritter said: "We applaud the Governor for his leadership in continuing New York's State's extraordinary legacy of supporting people with developmental disabilities and for commissioning this month-long celebration and observance. Our goal is to help the community at-large see the merits and abilities of the whole person - not simply a disability."

Ramon Aldecoa, Co-Vice President of the Board for the Self-Advocacy Association of New York State, Inc. (an organization run by and for people with developmental disabilities) and a subject of one of the exhibits at the Empire Plaza said: "For me, it was very important to learn about my rights as a person with a developmental disability. Now, it's time for me to use all I've learned to help teach other people with disabilities to do the same thing. We all have the same rights. I feel it's my job as an advocate to make sure all individuals know this, so they can act on those rights."

Nearly 350,000 New Yorkers live with a developmental disability. Initiatives like NYS-CARES III, which provides out-of-home community residential alternatives for adults, and other programs such as supported employment, which helps individuals enter the workforce and become productive members of society, are vitally important in creating opportunities for New Yorkers with developmental disabilities.