Sunday, September 16 will be the kick off for National Rehabilitation Week that will last until Saturday, the 22nd. The week’s purpose is to educate people on the powers of rehabilitation and share the message that through rehab there is hope, achievement and success. During the celebration, individuals that have overcome disabilities are spotlighted and given awards, and noteworthy rehabilitation facilities are thanked for their ongoing efforts to improve the lives of disabled Americans.
Awareness for rehabilitation was first celebrated 26 years ago, in 1976. At that time, it was only a small scale local awareness campaign put on by the Allied Services healthcare system. From there, it has only grown bigger. 1990 marked a milestone for the celebration when Allied joined forces with rehab facilities across the country to secure a Presidential proclamation which officially designated the third week in September as National Rehabilitation Week. In 1997, the observance took yet another step forward when, for the first time, it was celebrated under the banner of the newly-established National Rehabilitation Awareness Foundation.
The National Rehabilitation Awareness Foundation’s mission is to educate people about the benefits and impact of rehabilitation; develop programs which aim to increase opportunities for the nearly 50 million Americans with disabilities, and help those who are disabled live up to their fullest potential through rehabilitation. The not-for-profit foundation is headquartered in Scranton, Pennsylvania. (http://www.nraf-rehabnet.org/index.html)
There are plenty of ways to include your community and organization in the awareness of this week to make the celebration a success. Some ideas provided by the National Rehabilitation Awareness Foundation are:
Community Outreach Activities
- Plan an Open House and offer free health screenings, health information and tours of your facility.
- Secure proclamations from government offices declaring the week “National Rehab Awareness Week.”
- Write a guest editorial to area newspapers regarding the positive impact of rehab/ Pitch rehab success stories to newspaper and magazine feature writers.
- Invite local schools to participate in poster contests using “Celebrating the Successes of People With Disabilities” as a theme. Display art work throughout your facility.
- Speak to school groups about rehabilitation careers.
- Organize wheelchair sports challenges. To increase promotion, invite local news reporters and celebrities to participate.
- Encourage local businesses to participate by displaying educational information and posters.
- Invite government officials and media representatives to participate in a walking
survey of the community to determine if all public areas are wheelchair accessible. Take action to correct areas which are not.
- Be creative and think of fun and unique ways to celebrate! In the past, participants have held rehab trivia contests, buried time capsules; organized marathons; coordinated a hot air balloon race; hosted a county-wide tailgate party; held sports clinics; and constructed a fully accessible playground in observance of the celebration.
Like the National Rehabilitation Awareness Foundation, BlazeSports America also wants to educate others on the opportunities that people with physical disabilities have. We do this through BlazeDays. A BlazeDay is a unique and exciting opportunity for students in schools and community groups to experience a range of Paralympic sports. The aims of a BlazeDay is to increase awareness of the range of sports available to people with physical disabilities, educate students about different types of physical disabilities, encourage inclusion of students with disabilities and help educators become knowledgeable of the importance of active lifestyles for students with disabilities, and the use of Paralympic activities to encourage healthy, active choices. The sports that are included are sitting volleyball, boccia, goal ball and wheelchair relays.
Tell us how you plan on celebrating National Rehabilitation Week in your community.
To organize a BlazeDay – fill out the online form at http://www.blazesports.org/resources/start-a-program/