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Everyday People Solve Extraordinary Problems Everyday

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The month of April gives us the opportunity to reflect on the many organizations that are currently finding solutions to some of our world’s biggest problems. From World Autism Awareness day to Cancer Control Month, everyday people just like you have made it their mission to not only focus on finding solutions to these problems but to make sure our world is aware of these issues. I believe that our problems—all of them—can be solved and that the answers are trapped inside people like you. When you share what you know and what you’ve learned, you become the solution. Join us this month as we pay tribute to these noteworthy causes.

finding solutions

World Autism Awareness Day

On December 18, 2007, the United Nations General Assembly declared April 2nd as World Autism Awareness Day. World Autism Awareness Day, or WAAD, is one of only four official health-specific United Nations Days, and it focuses on drawing attention to autism, a disorder that affects tens of millions of people worldwide. A new government study of parents suggests that 1 in 45 children ages 3-17 have been diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder.

Not only is there no cure for autism, but there is still much debate as to what causes it. The prevalence and high rate of autism in our world should concern everyone. WAAD activities help to increase world knowledge about children and adults with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), and they celebrate the talents and skills of those living with it.  For more information on Autism or how to become involved in a local event near you, visit Autism Speaks at www.autismspeaks.org. (Source)


Whether you celebrate this day by dying eggs with the little ones or watching the kiddos hunt for them in an Easter egg hunt, Easter is one of our world’s most beloved holidays.

But for many, Sunday, April 16th is not just about dying eggs or the Easter Bunny. Easter Sunday, also known as Resurrection Sunday for many Christians, is a celebration of the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. For many Christians,  this is the most important holiday of the Christian faith and is paramount to the Christian religion.

Earth Day-Saturday April 22nd

Did you know that the average American produces 1,600 POUNDS of garbage a year and uses between 80 and 100 gallons of water a DAY? Or what about the fact that the electricity used by appliances plugged in, but not in use, accounts for 1% of global C02 emissions? (Source) Yikes! That’s a lot of water and garbage! It’s facts like these that make me more conscious of the carbon footprint I’m leaving behind. And fortunately, we have organizations like The Earth Day Network to bring more attention to this crucial issue. This year, Earth Day is focused on environmental and climate change literacy. Even with all the attention that climate change has gotten, many people are still unaware of what that actually means and the threat it causes to our planet. For more information about Earth Day Network or how to participate in an Earth Day event near you, please visit www.earthday.org.

Alcohol Awareness Month

I can’t tell you how many people I know that battle the disease of alcoholism in quiet. Out of fear of being rejected by family and friends, they hide their addiction. Sometimes they find recovery and other times they don’t. Because of their struggle, I am so glad that organizations like the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence or NCADD designated April as Alcohol Awareness Month.

This awareness month was established in 1987 to reduce the stigma associated with alcoholism by encouraging communities to reach out to the American public each April with information about alcohol, alcoholism, and recovery. Alcoholism is a progressive disease, genetically predisposed, and is fatal if untreated (Source)

There is hope and help for those living with alcoholism. The people that run NCADD are everyday people who are committed to finding solutions in recovery. To learn more about addiction or to get help for yourself and/or a loved one, visit https://www.ncadd.org/.

Cancer Control Month

Cancer. It crosses religions, race, age, social class and there isn’t a person on this planet that doesn’t know someone that’s been affected by it. It’s the second leading cause of death in the United States and the pain endured by those that have battled this disease as well as those that love them keeps us fighting for a cure.  And in 2017, there will be an estimated 1,688,780 new cancer cases diagnosed and 600,920 cancer deaths in the US alone (Source). I can’t tell you how many friends, loved ones, and associates I know that have had cancer wreak havoc on their life. This disease must be stopped.

The month of April is Cancer Control Month. In 1938, Congress passed a joint resolution requesting the President to issue an annual proclamation declaring April to be Cancer Control Month. And recently, President Donald Trump continued that proclamation. Let’s honor the memory of our loved ones that we’ve lost, and celebrate the survivors still here with us. Participate in your favorite cancer organization this month and help find a cure!

117 in 2017

I get excited when I learn about organizations such as the ones listed above that are out there finding solutions to some of our world’s biggest problems. Everyday people can and do solve extraordinary problems! This year, we too are looking for solutions to some of our worlds problems. How do we solve gun violence or tort reform?  How about you? What do you know, what have you been through, what have you discovered or developed that can help others? What inspirational nonfiction book could you write that will bring hope to others? Please join us in our effort to find 117 Solutions in 2017!


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developmental disabilities dignity

Dignity of All People-Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month

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In 1987, President Ronald Reagan declared March as Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month. Because holidays like St. Patrick’s Day are also in March, the awareness about people with disabilities can get overlooked. This month, we want to take a moment to reflect on its importance and highlight the dignity of all people.

The 70s and 80s paved the way for social change for those living with disabilities. With the support of President Reagan, “programs to provide career planning, job coaching, and employment for those living with disabilities began to increase. The idea that individuals with developmental disabilities could become productive members of the workforce was new to many people, and entrenched preconceptions had to be overcome.” (Source)

According to the Developmental Disabilities Act, the term developmental disability means a severe or chronic disability that happens before age 22 that is likely to continue and affects three or more of the following areas: self-care, receptive and expressive language, learning mobility, self-direction, capacity for independent living and economic self-sufficiency. Many of us are unaware of the challenges that those with special needs endure on a daily basis. While I have never raised children with special needs, I have friends who have. I will never know the challenges they face, but their strength, courage, and perseverance to endure and advocate for their child is commendable. I admire them greatly.

Developmental Disabilities Recommended Reading

Reading is a great way to get a look at something that you might not have experienced firsthand. Books, both fiction and nonfiction, can help you get closer to the issue. The Memory Keeper’s Daughter by Kim Edwards is an incredibly moving story in which a man decides to send his newborn daughter, who suffers from Down Syndrome, away to an institution. The nurse tasked with taking the baby to the institution decides to raise the baby herself, and the novel takes you along for that journey. Another great read is The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime by Mark Haddon, a novel that centers around the detective adventures of a boy with an unnamed condition but that has indicators for developmental disabilities such as Asperger syndrome, high functioning Autism, or possibly Savant syndrome. Mark Haddon later noted in a blog that “”Curious Incident is not a book about Asperger’s….if anything it’s a novel about difference, about being an outsider, about seeing the world in a surprising and revealing way. The book is not specifically about any specific disorder” (Source). That, in itself, is a beautiful sentiment, as it focuses the book on the story, not simply a disability.

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer is also told through the eyes of a boy with Aspberger’s syndrome who is navigating an emotional and confusing time after his father died in the September 11th terrorist attacks. This book would bridge nicely into our 117 Solutions in 2017 theme for next week: stories from survivors of terrorism.

Dignity of All People

Every person deserves respect. Every life is precious and has purpose and value. I am reminded of this quote from Pope Francis:

“Things have a price and can be for sale, but people have a dignity that is priceless and worth far more than things.”

I hope you can spend some time reflecting on the challenges that those living with disabilities face. Our country has come a long way in supporting them, but there is still so much more work to do. If you or someone you know has a solution to the challenges that those who live with disabilities face, please don’t be silent. Your story could be the hope and help that someone needs. Join us to find 117 Solutions in 2017.

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