By Kurt Rutzen, Disability Advocate for Bethesda
People with intellectual and developmental disabilities want
to work like everyone else. Work gives them the feeling of being included.
Employers find they are very hard workers once they are given a chance. People
with ID/DD also feel that working at a job gives them independence and they
want that just like anyone else. People with ID/DD also want to feel
self-sufficient so very much. They want dignity that comes from a job and being
self-sufficient because that is so very important to them.
Personally, in my own life, if I did not have the
opportunity to work, I have no idea what I would do. It really gives me a sense
of belonging and I feel so good about myself in all kinds of ways.
I feel that our society sometimes just hires people with
disabilities because maybe they feel sorry for them or for other reasons. This
is wrong. We should be hiring people with disabilities because people with
disabilities have a lot to offer and they can be great workers!
We all should support people with disabilities and employers
should support them and let them know when they do something wrong so they can
get better at whatever they do. We need to be focusing on helping people with
disabilities find a career and not just a job. This is very important.
When people with disabilities get a job, employers sometimes
think the task is done, but it is not. We need to continue to support them
throughout their careers to help them reach their goals and become even better
at their jobs.
We must think about ways to provide people with disabilities
career opportunities all year, not just during Disability Employment Awareness
Kurt Rutzen is a Disability Advocate for Bethesda. In his role, Kurt works throughout the 13 states Bethesda operates and helps the people we support build self-advocacy skills. Kurt, who has a disability himself, has a deep understanding of the political issues facing people with disabilities and works with our operations team to help assess state intellectual and developmental disability supports systems and identify opportunities for advancing public policy affecting people with disabilities. Prior to joining Bethesda, Rutzen served as a public policy volunteer for The Arc Minnesota and worked in a part-time capacity at the Institute on Community Integration (University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities) at the University of Minnesota.