Awareness, General

National Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month

Observed each March, National Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month aims to increase public awareness about developmental disabilities, promote greater understanding of the issues that affect these individuals and their families, and create opportunities for inclusion within our community. For STARability, it’s a great time to raise awareness about our mission, innovative programs and our amazing STARs.

Intellectual and developmental disabilities affect approximately 7 million individuals in the United States, as well as their loved ones and caregivers. While families receive support while their children are in school, they are often unable to find services once they age out of the school system. In Collier County alone, an estimated 1,000 students with disabilities in Collier County schools will need supplemental services when they age out of system.

That is where STARability Foundation comes in.

STAR participant Alexis K. dazzled on the runway at the recent STARability Foundation’s 5th Annual STAR Gala: Night on the Red Carpet at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Resort, Naples.

Our mission is to transform the lives of our STAR participants through social, vocational and educational connections to the community, while strengthening awareness and respect for individual abilities. We strive to ensure everyone has access to transformative programs, vital resources and an inclusive community that provide opportunities to live meaningful and productive lives and become vibrant members of society.

Individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities can be impacted by a wide spectrum of impairments in learning and behavior, as well as loss of physical and/or intellectual functioning that may cause substantial limitations, including self-care, receptive and expressive language, learning, mobility, independent living and economic self-sufficiency. Additionally, developmental disabilities continue to be marked by stigma and discrimination based on preconceived notions and misinformation.

Through it all, STARability is at the heart of shining a light on ability, not disability.

Currently, STARability provides programming for more than 300 individuals by offering a variety of inclusive, community based programs focused on vocational training, continuing education, teamwork, social engagement and community involvement. We are true advocates for building inclusion through work, play, learning and living.

Our experienced and compassionate team is dedicated to promoting solutions for the needs of participants at every level, allowing them to express themselves through music, art and dance, using technology to interact with others, and find rewarding jobs. We take pride in helping them reconnect with old friends and form bonds with new ones. Currently, we offer a variety of programs that promote inclusive employment, engagement and independence such as STAR Connections — creative expression workshops, wellness classes, continuing education and sports leagues; the Trailblazer Academy — a pioneering day program; employment services; and the STAR Store and Studio.

We lovingly refer to the individuals in our life-transforming programs as STARs because they brighten our lives, our community and our world. Our STARs inspire our work and spark our passion to create new initiatives and to build on the innovative programs that help them thrive. STARs show us again and again the achievements and milestones they can accomplish – reaching new goals each day, developing critical life skills, and laying the foundation for a positive future.

We hope you consider joining our efforts to educate the community and support the movement towards full inclusion for persons with intellectual and developmental disabilities as a positive and worthy goal.