Every October Luke Air Force Base in Arizona observes National Disability Employment Awareness Month.
This year Luke had three major points of outreach to the community and a display honoring NDEAM in the Luke AFB library.
NDEAM dates back to 1945, when Congress declared the first week in October “National Employ the Physically Handicapped Week”.
Two of the events planned in honor of the observance were held at the Health Fair and Retiree Appreciation event held on base. A third event was coordinated with Luke Elementary School.
Staff members educated the students on what NDEAM represented and the importance it had in their community and futures. Afterwards, students from grades kindergarten to four created posters that represented the theme of NDEAM, and students from grades five wrote essays on the history of NDEAM and how it applies today.
More than 200 students placed submissions, and one student’s submission was chosen from each grade level that best represented NDEAM. Awards were presented by Capt. Lindi Kirkland and Capt. Brooke Ryan, of the 56th Medical Operations Squadron, alongside the MDOS commander, Lt. Col. Joseph Beard.
“This was a great opportunity to partner with Luke Elementary,” Beard said. “To see the students’ level of understanding and desire for inclusiveness of people with disabilities, was truly inspirational.”
With all of the outreach combined, awareness of NDEAM was brought to nearly 3,000 people this year, Ryan said.
“Outreach to Luke Elementary was critical for spreading awareness locally,” Ryan said. “Kids are so impressionable, so it’s nice to see they will carry this with them into their futures.”