AgrAbility for Pennsylvanians staff participated in two focus group meetings with the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture.
The first meeting focused on rehabilitation through agriculture. Case studies were presented by Pittsburgh Mercy Health System and the PA Horticulture Society. AgrAbility staff provided information about services, assistive technology, accessible agriculture, Penn State Extension, and general agricultural information.
The second meeting was focused on veterans and agriculture. Over a dozen organizations presented information on how their programs engage people who have left military service. AgrAbility staff focused on services provided to veterans with disabilities in agriculture. Ideas for collaboration between organizations were discussed. PA Department of Ag presented information on agricultural occupation job demand and technical training opportunities in the state for veterans.
On another legislative front, dozens of statewide organizations, non-profits, and departments gathered in Harrisburg, Pa., at the main capitol rotunda on October 20, 2015, to participate in a Disability Awareness Day, organized by Pennsylvania State Senator Christine Tartaglione (D-Phila). Participants interacted with Pennsylvania lawmakers and staff to raise awareness for inclusion and equality in the workplace for individuals with disabilities.
AgrAbility for Pennsylvanians staff was represented by Abbie Spackman, project coordinator, and Kendra Martin, outreach coordinator. The two had an opportunity to talk one-on-one with legislators about how the project helps Pennsylvania farmers remain in the agricultural workforce despite a disability.
Sen. Tartaglione also won unanimous approval of a resolution making October "National Disability Employment Awareness Month" in Pennsylvania. "We acknowledge those individuals who have overcome challenges to fulfill their career ambitions," said Sen. Tartaglione.
During the event, lawmakers could experience and learn about life as a person with disabilities. Representatives from PA Labor & Industry Bureau of Blindness and Visual Services, Magee Rehabilitation Hospital in Philadelphia, PA Statewide Independent Living Council, PA Office of Vocational Rehabilitation, Susquehanna Service Dogs, Self Determination Housing Project of Pennsylvania, UniqueSource, and United Cerebral Palsy of Central Pennsylvania, helped to drive home an important message.
Submitted by Abbie Spackman