Dollar General Announces Call for New Vendors

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Suppliers, companies and manufacturers with exciting new products who want to reach millions of consumers and partner with one of America’s fastest-growing retailers that is currently listed #128 on the Fortune 500 list and posted $22 billion in FY 2016 sales, listen up!

Dollar General (NYSE: DG) is encouraging new suppliers and those who have not sold products to the Company within the past 18 months to apply to attend its inaugural Innovation and Supplier Diversity Summit in April 2018. The event aims to pair potential new vendors with respective Dollar General buyers and category managers. Suppliers must sell items in at least one of the following categories to be eligible to attend:

  • Beauty, Personal Care and Over-the-Counter/Wellness
  • General Merchandise/All Non-Food
  • Grocery.

“As part of Dollar General’s continual commitment to provide quality products at everyday low prices to our diverse consumer base, we are thrilled to announce our first Innovation and Supplier Diversity Summit scheduled for this spring,” said Jason Reiser, Dollar General’s executive vice president and chief merchandising officer. “Having the right products to best meet our customers’ needs is a foundational cornerstone at Dollar General. As such, we look forward to meeting with potential new vendors, learning about relevant products for our customers and expanding the number of unique and specialized offerings available in our stores.”

To apply, interested suppliers, companies and manufacturers may submit their product information at www.rangeme.com/dollargeneralfrom Tuesday, January 30 through end of day on Tuesday, February 20, 2018. Selected companies will be subject to a $500 participation fee and notified via email by Efficient Collaborative Retail Marketing (ECRM) of the time, date and location of their meeting with a member of the Dollar General merchandising team.

Continue onto Business Wire to read the complete article.

TFS Scholarships Launches Online Toolkit to Provide College Funding Resources

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SALT LAKE CITY— TFS Scholarships (TFS), the most comprehensive online resource for higher education funding, has launched a free online toolkit to provide counselors, families and students with resources to help improve the college scholarship search process. The toolkit, available at tuitionfundingsources.com/resource-toolkit, provides downloadable resources and practical tips on how to find and apply for scholarships.

The launch comes in celebration with Financial Aid Awareness Month when many families are beginning the FAFSA process and researching financial aid options.

“We hope these resources help raise awareness around TFS and the 7 million college scholarships available to undergraduate, graduate and professional students,” said Richard Sorensen, president of TFS Scholarships. “Our goal is to help families discover alternative ways to offset the rising costs of higher education.”

The resource toolkit includes flyers, email templates, newsletter content, digital banners and table toppers which are designed to be shareable content that counselors, students and organizations can use to spread the word about how to find free money for college.

The newly revamped TFS website curates over 7 million scholarship opportunities from across the country – with the majority coming directly from colleges and universities—and matches them to students based on their personal profile, where they want to study, and stage of academic study. By tailoring the search criteria, TFS identifies scholarships that students are uniquely qualified for, thus lowering the application pool and increasing the chances of winning. By creating an online profile, students can find scholarships representing more than $41 billion in aid. About 5,000 new scholarships are added to the database every month and appear in real time.

Thanks to exclusive financial support from Wells Fargo, the TFS website is completely ad-free, and no selling of data, making it a safe and trusted place to search.

For more information about Tuition Funding Sources visit tuitionfundingsources.com.

 

About TFS Scholarships

TFS Scholarships (TFS) is an independent service that provides free access to scholarship opportunities for aspiring and current undergraduate, graduate, and professional students. Founded in 1987, TFS began as a passion project to help students and has grown into the most comprehensive online resource for higher education funding. Today, TFS is a trusted place where students and families enjoy free access to more than 7 million scholarships representing more than $41 billion in college funding. In addition to its vast database that’s refreshed with 5,000 new scholarships every month, TFS also offers information about career planning, financial aid, and federal and private student loan programs as part of its commitment to helping students fund their future. Learn more at tuitionfundingsources.com.

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Have a lower leg injury? Don’t just sit there and suffer, get moving!

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iwalkfree

LOS ANGELES, Calif.– Each year, there are millions of people who end up with lower leg injuries. Those who have experienced it know all too well the way it can make something like mobility a new challenge to conquer.

Yet the majority of people need to still be able to get around to go to school, work, run errands, and just continue to participate in life. Time and duties don’t come to a halt with a lower leg injury, so knowing how to get around easier can make a world of difference.

“The last thing people want when they have a lower leg injury is to be holed up in the house and stuck on the couch waiting it out,” explains Brad Hunter, the innovator of iWALK2.0 and the chief executive officer of the company, iWALKFree, Inc.  “There are things people can do to help make it easier during this challenging period. Taking steps to make it easier will help keep people more mobile and less frustrated.”

According to the National Institutes of Health, there are 6.5 million people in the country who need to use some type of device to assist with their mobility. Here are some tips for helping make mobility easier while having a lower leg injury:

1. Consider using the iWalk2.0. Those who use crutches often find that they make mobility more challenging. They keep both hands busy, making it difficult to carry things or even open doors. The iWALK2.0 has been designed to help people easily get around with their lower leg injury and at the same time do so hands-free.

2. Plan ahead. Taking the time to plan out errands and tasks will give people an opportunity to determine which will be the easiest routes and schedules to take. Planning ahead will help people stay organized, determine the routes that are the best for increasing mobility, and will reduce the stress of backtracking.

3. Ask for help. Many people shy away from asking others for help. They don’t want to burden them or feel like they are being a pest. The truth is that most people won’t mind one bit helping out. Don’t shy away from asking for help when it is needed.

4. Look for obstacles. When you arrive at your destination, take a moment to scan the area for what could be potential obstacles. If you know stairs will be difficult, for example, or if you see the sidewalk is blocked off for repair, determine the best way to navigate around it before approaching the area.

5. Getting around. If your lower leg injury is preventing you from being able to drive, determine your other options. Ask friends and family members for rides, and if that is not an option check with your local bus company to see what they can provide. Many public transportation systems offer a home pickup and drop-off option for those in need.

“The important thing to remember is that this is a temporary challenge and you can take measures that will help to make mobility easier during it,” adds Hunter. “We routinely hear from people who love how the iWALK2.0 has made their mobility easier. Our system has helped countless people to navigate the challenge of a lower leg injury with more ease and confidence.”

The IWALK2.0 was developed as a way to help make healing from a lower leg injury more comfortable and to increase the ease of mobility. The original prototype was created by a farmer in Canada.  The concept continued to develop, and the iWALK2.0 was launched in late 2013. Sales really took off when Harrison Ford was photographed wearing it.

The iWALK2.0 is hands-free, easy to learn to use, it’s intuitive, and safe. From the knee up, the leg is doing the same walking motion that comes naturally to it. The device is essentially a temporary lower leg, which gives people their independence and mobility back as they recover from an injury. The device is pain-free, and makes it possible for people to engage in many of their normal routine activities, such as walking the dog, grocery shopping, and walking up or down stairs.

Clinical research, the results of which are on the company website, shows that patients using the iWALK2.0 heal faster, and have a higher sense of satisfaction and a higher rate of compliance. The iWALK2.0 sells for $149 and is available online and through select retailers. Some insurance companies may cover the cost of the device. The device can be used with a cast or boot, and comes with a limited warranty. For more information on the iWALK2.0, visit the site at: http://iwalk-free.com. To see a video of the iWALK2.0 in action, visit: iWalkFree

About iWALKFree
The iWALK2.0 is a hands-free knee crutch, made by iWALKFree, Inc.  It’s a mobility device used instead of traditional crutches and knee scooters. It offers more comfort and independence, with the hands and arms remaining free. The device offers people a functional and independent lifestyle as they are recovering from many common lower leg injuries. For more information on the iWALK2.0, visit the site at: http://iwalk-free.com

# # #

Source:

National Institute of Health: How many people use assistive devices? https://www.nichd.nih.gov/health/topics/rehabtech/conditioninfo/people

Good Jobs for People with Learning Disabilities

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Film editor

By Luke Redd

This category of disability sometimes gets overlooked, maybe because the different types of learning disabilities are so diverse. After all, one person might have imperfect reading, writing, or spelling abilities, whereas another person may have difficulty with using numbers, speaking, thinking, or listening. Even problems with memory, time management, and organization are sometimes considered learning disabilities.

Well-known conditions such as dyslexia and ADHD are only two of the many possible learning disabilities that can make it challenging to build a successful career. But you don’t have to be held back by your challenges. Some of humanity’s greatest contributors—such as Leonardo da Vinci and Albert Einstein—may have had learning disabilities.

Although you might have challenges in one area, you may have real strengths and talents in another. For example, many people with at least one learning disability have valuable traits such as resilience, empathy, or creativity. Others seem to have a natural ability to speak in public or see the bigger picture. That’s why a lot of the careers that have already been mentioned (such as design and teaching) are often good jobs for people with learning disabilities. Here are a few other possibilities to consider:

Filmmaker

A lot of people with dyslexia or other learning disabilities have a heightened ability to distinguish different faces and objects from one another while also visualizing how various elements can come together into a single image. Frequently, they are also good at quickly processing a whole series of images. As a result, filmmaking is often a worthwhile path to explore.

Average yearly wages:

  • Film and video editors—$80,300
  • Directors of motion pictures—$105,550

Entrepreneur

Big-picture thinking is a trait that many professionals with learning disabilities use to their advantage. In fact, some of the world’s most successful business people have said that they achieved prosperity because of dyslexia or other learning difficulties. They’ve been able to find connections between ideas that other people can’t see. And they’ve had the courage to persist in the face of all kinds of challenges.

Average yearly wages: varies widely, from less than $50,000 to more than $200,000

Counselor

Since growing up with a learning disability can be very challenging, those who do often develop a lot of empathy for anyone else who is struggling. That’s why some people who have learning disabilities find that the field of counseling provides a good place for their talents. They can help comfort and advise other people with genuine understanding.

Average yearly wages:

  • Rehabilitation counselors—$38,040
  • Addictions counselors—$42,920
  • Mental health counselors—$45,080
  • School counselors—$56,490

Broadcast News Anchor or Correspondent

Special talents like public speaking come naturally to some people with learning disabilities. So it might be worth investigating careers that involve being in front of a camera or audience. Broadcast news is a fascinating option since you may be able to do a lot of public good by reporting on what’s happening in your community or around the nation.

Average yearly wages: $51,430

Nursing Assistant

This occupation is another option that can allow you to take advantage of your empathetic nature. Plus, providing basic care to medical patients or residents of nursing facilities can be a great way to experience a sense of pride and meaning. And you don’t have to learn much since the job typically involves relatively simple tasks like feeding, dressing, bathing, moving, and grooming patients.

Average yearly wages: $26,820

Source: Trade-Schools.net

Women With Disabilities Face High Barriers To Entrepreneurship. How To Change That

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The University of Illinois — Chicago is home to a unique education program for entrepreneurs with disabilities run by associate professor Dr. Katherine Caldwell. It’s called Chicagoland Entrepreneurship Education for People with Disabilities.

“We wanted to really bring disability studies and entrepreneurship to the same table to look at, ‘Okay, well where are we now?’” Caldwell said. “What does it look like, what are the main barriers that they’re running into, and what sort of facilitators would help them out?”

Caldwell found that Chicago-area entrepreneurs with disabilities had trouble finding resources to grow their businesses, had high barriers to entry and faced structural challenges from the disability benefits system.

Caldwell also notes that most of the entrepreneurs she works with are women of color. Women and minorities with disabilities face extra challenges. “There’s that whole discussion of the pay gap that we’ve been having in women’s rights circles,” Caldwell said. “But it hasn’t included women with disabilities.”

Accessible opportunities

Chicagoland Entrepreneurship Education for People with Disabilities aims to help participants understand the benefit system and other typical barriers to entrepreneurship so that they can find a way to be most successful in building a business.

Like in any demographic group, there’s plenty of desire to build businesses in the disability community. Perhaps, it’s even stronger, Caldwell said, because traditional employment opportunities for people with disabilities are often less than ideal.

“They want to take control,” she said. “ They want to start a business so they can, not just create a job for themselves, but also create jobs for other people with disabilities.”

Many people with disabilities are employed through something called sheltered workshops. Which, Caldwell said, “Is basically work in a segregated work setting where they’re paid less than minimum wage.”

Sheltered employment was originally intended to give people with disabilities a chance to get work experience and skills that they could use to get other jobs. But, “Only five percent of workers actually go on to competitive employment from sheltered workshops,” Caldwell said. “So it’s not effective at achieving what it was supposed to back in the ’30s and yet for some reason we’re still doing it.”

In fact, she argues many companies are exploiting workers with disabilities through sheltered employment because it’s a way for companies to employ people who they can pay significantly less than minimum wage.

In addition to entrepreneurship as an escape from sheltered work, people with disabilities can use entrepreneurship to tackle challenges they face every day navigating a mostly inaccessible world.

“They can tap into that innovative potential of having experienced the problems that their business serves first hand,” Caldwell said.

Representation matters

Caldwell believes there needs to be an increase in representation of entrepreneurs with disabilities on a wider scale.

“One thing that they really need, and one thing that they currently lack are mentors, are examples of success,” she said. “Which is why having more visibility of entrepreneurs with disabilities especially women entrepreneurs with disabilities in the media would be super helpful.”

Continue onto Forbes to read the complete article

How I Got Into…With Richard Browne

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Richard Browne

In an edition of ‘How I got into…’ we find out how U.S. world champion and world record holder Richard Browne started out in Para athletics.

Growing up, sport for Richard Browne meant only one thing—American football.

College football beckoned—the springboard to the professional league—but all that changed during Browne’s junior high school year in 2007 when he suffered a traumatic accident, slipping in the rain and crashing through a glass window in Jackson, Mississippi.Several surgeries later, his right leg was amputated below the knee.

“I always tell people that I wish I would’ve got my leg cut off immediately because I would’ve gone to the 2008 Games, but I had 13 surgeries and went three years before getting my leg cut off,” explained Browne.

Not that track and field was immediately on his mind—after his football career ended, Browne kept playing basketball, using his walking leg. “It was a fluke—it was absolute luck. My prosthetist saw me playing basketball on my walking leg and a company donated me a running leg just off the back of that,” said Browne.

“The first thing I did was get on YouTube and watch the 2008 (Paralympic Games) 100m.” The race was won by South African Oscar Pistorius, with US sprinter Jerome Singleton clinching silver; two-time US Paralympic champion Marlon Shirley fell. “I remember Marlon going down. He was my everything—he was fast, he was the world record holder, he had gold medals, he was unapologetic for being a disabled athlete and I loved that.” In fact, Shirley was a great inspiration to the young American—when the pair met, he encouraged Browne even more.

“He told me ‘You know what, you’re going to be good at this’ and ever since then I was like, this is for me,” said Browne. But despite being a keen sportsman all his life, athletics did not come easily.

“I’d never tried track until after I lost my leg, so it was really weird transitioning from being an American footballer to being an amputee T44 sprinter. It was very different, and it was hard for me. “I remember quitting first, I had a conversation with my girlfriend at the time—I remember crying because I quit, but it was so hard just to get out there and run, especially being on that blade—it was different. “My hamstrings were weak and my hips were weak because I hadn’t used any of these muscles that you need to run in three and a half years.”

But Browne persevered—a mindset he puts down to his upbringing.

“It was that mentality that my mum taught us growing up—if you’re going to do something, be the best at it,” explained the 25-year-old, who won World Championship gold in October 2015 in a world record time of 10.61 seconds.

As for persevering, it’s because Browne just wants to be the best. He recalls his first race against British sprinter Jonnie Peacock, who went on to win Paralympic gold in 2012. It was in 2011 at Crystal Palace in London: “I raced Jonnie and I remember that race vividly because I freaked out—Jonnie was telling me his personal best and mine was nowhere close to what those guys were running. My PB at the time was like 11.8 and those guys were running 11.4 or 11.5. I hadn’t made the national team, I was pretty much a nobody and I remember when I told Jonnie my time he laughed! “I went out there and lost to him by 0.05 seconds. I ran 11.56 and the next year, boom, it all began. Losing races, those things didn’t sit with me well.”

Browne clinched silver behind Peacock at London 2012, a result that was repeated at the 2013 World Championships in Lyon, France 10 months later. “People don’t understand how that 2013 race affected me mentally—I did not want to lose another race,” said Browne, who had broken the world record in his World Championship semi-final.

“Never again would I feel like that. I felt like I had lost my leg all over again, it was the worse feeling in the world and I was like ‘Never again will I feel like this. I want to be the best.’”

Source: International Paralympic Committee
Photo Credit: Cory Ryan

Move Over Crutches and Knee Scooters, Now There’s Something Hands-Free and Much Better

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iwalkfree

According to the National Institutes of Health, there are around 6.5 million people in the country who use a cane, walker, or crutches to assist with their mobility. Many of these people are prescribed crutches or knee scooters for lower leg injuries. Yet those devices come with their own set of problems, making them difficult to use.

Crutches often lead to muscle atrophy, make it difficult to use the stairs, and if they fall to the floor it can become a gymnastics maneuver to try and pick them up. Millions of people are prescribed crutches or knee scooters for lower leg injuries. Now, those with lower leg injuries have a better option to consider, the iWALK2.0, which gives them hands-free ability to continue walking and having full use of their arms and hands.

“When people have the ability to try out the hands-free iWALK2.0, they can feel what a major difference and step up it is from using crutches or a knee scooter,” explains Brad Hunter, the innovator of iWALK2.0 and the chief executive officer of the company, iWalk Free. “It’s a revolutionary device that helps give people back their independence and mobility while they are healing from an injury. It doesn’t get much better than that.”

Crutches are known for being uncomfortable, often making it difficult for people to remain independent. They take full use of someone’s arms and hands. Leg scooters are also difficult to use because they lack the ability for the person to feel they are getting around in a somewhat normal fashion. These problems are what motivated the iWALK2.0 innovator to find a better, more comfortable way to help heal a broken ankle. The original prototype was created by a farmer named Lance, and when Brad found it he purchased half of the company and innovated the device. Sales really took off when Harrison Ford was photographed wearing it. The rest, as they say, is history.

The muscles around your upper leg and hip atrophy by as much as 2% a day while on crutches. That’s not so with iWALK2.0. Also, one’s blood flow to the lower extremities is typically reduced when using crutches, thus hampering the healing process and the transition between using crutches and walking without them can be difficult, but the iWALK2.0 makes the transition seamless. The iWALK2.0 is an alternative to 2,000-year-old crutches, and won the I-Novo Award for “best design” of any medical product, as voted on by 120,000 medical experts from around the world at an international conference held in Germany.

The iWALK2.0 is hands-free, easy to learn to use, it’s intuitive, and safe. From the knee up, the leg is doing the same walking motion that comes naturally to it. The device is essentially a temporary lower leg, which gives people their independence and mobility back as they recover from an injury. The device is pain-free, and makes it possible for people to engage in many of their normal routine activities, such as walking the dog, grocery shopping, and walking up stairs.

Since 1999, the company has brought thousands of people a more comfortable way to heal from many common lower leg injuries. Made of lightweight aluminum and engineered plastic, the device fits onto the leg, and allows people to do what they have always done. The crutches and knee scooter alternative, it has been the subject of numerous scientific studies and has won multiple awards from Medtrade, the largest medical device show in North America.<

“If you hurt your leg, you have a choice between arm crutches or our leg crutch, the iWALK2.0,” adds Hunter. “With all the benefits of the iWALK2.0 there is no reason to ever want to choose crutches or a leg scooter. The iWalk will keep you moving comfortably throughout the duration of your recovery.”

Clinical research, the results of which are on the company website, shows that patients using the iWALK2.0 heal faster, have a higher sense of satisfaction, and a higher rate of compliance. The iWALK2.0 sells for $149 and is available online and through select retailers. Some insurance companies may cover the cost of the device. The device can be used with a cast or boot, and comes with a limited warranty. For more information on the iWALK2.0, visit the site at: http://iwalk-free.com. To see a video of the iWALK2.0 in action, visit:  iWalkFree.

About iWalk Free

The iWALK2.0 is a hands-free knee crutch, made by iWalk Free, that is a mobility device used instead of traditional crutches and knee scooters. It offers more comfort and independence, with the hands and arms remaining free. The device offers people a functional and independent lifestyle as they are recovering from many common lower leg injuries. For more information on the iWALK2.0, visit the site at: http://iwalk-free.com.

# # #

Source:

National Institutes of Health. How many people use assistive devices? https://www.nichd.nih.gov/health/topics/rehabtech/conditioninfo/Pages/people.aspx

DAV’s 2017 Outstanding Disabled Veteran of the Year

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Dr. Kenneth Lee

Dr. Kenneth K. Lee president of the Wisconsin Adaptive Sports Association

Disabled American Veterans (DAV) named Dr. Kenneth K. Lee, a combat-injured Operation Iraqi Freedom and Army veteran, its 2017 Outstanding Disabled Veteran of the Year.

Lee, who deployed as the commander of the Army’s Company B, 118th Area Support Medical Battalion, was injured in November 2004 by a suicide car bomber in Iraq. The explosion resulted in an open head traumatic brain injury and severe shrapnel wounds to his legs, which led to his evacuation back to the states, where he would later be diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

While recovering from his injuries, Lee, a rehabilitation specialist, saw how long and difficult recovery could be, often leaving lasting changes. Lee, who resides in Brookfield, Wisconsin, is a volunteer physician at the National Disabled Veterans Winter Sports Clinic, which the Department of Veterans Affairs and DAV co-host, so he was no stranger to using adaptive sports as therapy. Through his own recovery, Lee propelled himself into the world of adaptive sports to help him deal with the psychological and physiological effects that can often cause an individual to hit bottom.

Within a year of Lee’s retirement in 2013, he formed the Milwaukee Wheelchair Lacrosse team and is now the president of the Wisconsin Adaptive Sports Association (WASA) which runs numerous adaptive sports programs.

DAV National Commander David W. Riley presented Lee the award at the organization’s 96th National Convention in New Orleans.

“Dr. Kenneth Lee is a shining example of everything that is good about our nation and its veterans,” said Riley. “The compassion he shows for other veterans and his work to help them find success is truly the hallmark of this award, and we’re very proud of what he’s doing for this community. At DAV, we truly value the importance and therapeutic effectiveness of adaptive sports and it is vital to have experienced leaders like Dr. Lee involved and carving out a path ahead.”

Despite his injuries and the constant pain in his lower extremities, Lee speaks with gratitude about his time in the Army.

“I got a lot more from the Guard than I put into it,” said Lee. “I joined the military with my eyes wide open. I volunteered to join. I have no regrets.”

Lee and his wife Kate currently live in Brookfield, Wisconsin, with their two children. As a youth volunteer, in 2014 his daughter Leah earned a $10,000 scholarship by volunteering for the DAV at the Milwaukee VA Medical Center. On the same day he will be honored as the charity’s veteran of the year, his son Jonathan has earned the charity’s largest scholarship of $20,000 and will be honored the same morning. They both hope ultimately to serve veterans as physicians through the VA.

About DAV
DAV empowers veterans to lead high-quality lives with respect and dignity. It is dedicated to a single purpose: fulfilling our promises to the men and women who served. DAV does this by ensuring that veterans and their families can access the full range of benefits available to them; fighting for the interests of America’s injured heroes on Capitol Hill; providing employment resources to veterans and their families and educating the public about the great sacrifices and needs of veterans transitioning

About DAV
DAV empowers veterans to lead high-quality lives with respect and dignity. It is dedicated to a single purpose: fulfilling our promises to the men and women who served. DAV does this by ensuring that veterans and their families can access the full range of benefits available to them; fighting for the interests of America’s injured heroes on Capitol Hill; providing employment resources to veterans and their families and educating the public about the great sacrifices and needs of veterans transitioning back to civilian life. DAV, a non-profit organization with nearly 1.3 million members, was founded in 1920 and chartered by the U.S. Congress in 1932.

Learn more at dav.org.

Fiesta Educativa Serves Latinos with Developmental Disabilities

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Dancers

By Ling Woo Liu

In the mid-1970s, long-time Spanish teacher Irene Martinez received a dinner invitation from a friend that would change her life.

Her friend’s husband, Joe Sanchez, was the executive director of one of California’s Regional Centers, which were established in 1966 to serve people with developmental disabilities and their families. That night over dinner, a conversation with Sanchez piqued Martinez’s interest. “It was a combination of what he said and how he said it—he had a deep commitment to what he was doing,” says Martinez. Soon afterward, she applied and was hired to serve as a counselor at the Eastern Los Angeles Regional Center. “From the first day, it just fit,” she says. “I loved what I was doing.”

At the time, center staff had noticed that non-English-speaking families weren’t receiving Regional Center services to the same extent as English-speaking families. As one of the early Spanish speakers on staff, Martinez organized a workshop to inform Latino families about Regional Center services. “There were people from wall to wall,” says Martinez, describing her first outreach event. “Parents talked to each other and word got out to the other Regional Centers. Things started to snowball.”

By 1978, that snowball had grown into an independent organization called Fiesta Educativa (“Educational Party”), founded by the Eastern Los Angeles Regional Center. It was one of the first organizations in the country to serve Latino families with children who have developmental disabilities. The concept of a “party” stemmed from the fact that Latino families respond better to information imparted in casual, familiar settings, like the homes of fellow families, rather than in agency offices. Martinez served as one of Fiesta’s original board members, and since 1998 she has led the organization as its executive director.

Nearly 40 years after its founding, Fiesta’s headquarters remains in Lincoln Heights, a predominantly Latino and Asian neighborhood in eastern Los Angeles, in an office above a strip mall. Signs throughout the building are printed in English, Spanish, Chinese, and Vietnamese. Today, Fiesta Educativa is California’s largest nonprofit organization serving Latino families with children who have special needs. Fiesta has eight parent coordinators on staff and more than 30 volunteers based in offices in Los Angeles, Orange County, Riverside, San Bernardino, and San Jose. The organization works with Latino clients at 10 of the state’s 21 Regional Centers. Funding comes from Regional Centers as well as from event sponsorships.

Fiesta’s programs include family conferences throughout the state that attract thousands of attendees, an autism education program for parents, and a partnership with a counterpart Chinese American organization that trains parents on special education advocacy. In addition, staff members organize regular “Fiestas Familiares” (“Family Parties”) in the homes of families to discuss topics such as special education eligibility and access to Regional Center services. These outreach events, conducted in Spanish and featuring food and music, reach entire families in safe, comfortable settings. “Immigrants have a tremendous amount of knowledge, but our structures don’t always fit them,” says Martinez. “It’s like having a CD but all you have is a cassette player. Fiestas Familiares come from the families themselves—they are organic.”

To reach Latino families who might benefit from their services, Fiesta utilizes a range of culturally appropriate outreach strategies, including a radio talk show, workshops at schools, libraries, and community centers, a monthly email newsletter, and, because many families do not use email, WhatsApp texts and phone “blasts” that play a recording about their upcoming events.

After 19 years at the helm, Martinez, 74, soon will be looking for a successor to lead Fiesta into its fourth decade. Her dream for the organization echoes the dreams that many Fiesta parents have for their children. “Fiesta is my baby,” she says. “And I don’t want it to rely on me. I want it to be independent.”

Source: lpfch.org

Transforming Lives With New Possibilities

LinkedIn

Akshai Mallappa is a business manager for Cisco in India and a global lead for the company’s Connected Disability Awareness Network (CDAN). This employee group, which drives inclusion and accessibility initiatives for Cisco, helped to launch LifeChanger, a global program that harnesses the power of Cisco technologies to transform the lives of people with disabilities.

How did you become involved with Cisco’s Connected Disability Awareness Network (CDAN), and what sparked your interest?

I was introduced to CDAN about two years after I joined the company. At the time, I was looking to become part of one of Cisco’s Employee Resource Organizations (EROs) because I wanted to make a difference in other people’s lives and enrich my knowledge about how we can accept and include people with other abilities. I was a member for a few years and volunteered in several activities. It was an eye-opener, because I previously had no exposure. But I was able to understand many of the subtle needs and nuances of working with differently-abled employees. A few years later, I was asked to lead the India chapter of CDAN, and was nominated to be the global lead in 2014.

What are some of the CDAN activities that have had the greatest impact on employees?

We align many of our activities to flagship events like Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD), which happens in May, and the United Nations International Day of Persons with Disabilities (IDPD) in December. We go into high gear for these events by bringing in guest speakers who either have a disability or work with the disabled. We also host a hackathon (a fitting event for Cisco as a technology company) that creates a lot of excitement with tech savvy people and developers—even from other companies. We ask them to innovate around a solution for people with disabilities. In one case, we took the digital map of our building floor plan and had the hackers design a solution that worked like a GPS to guide people by voice command in a safe way around the office. We also create awareness about people with disabilities, sometimes bringing in non-profits that showcase goods made by people with disabilities, or hosting activities where employees can learn to empathize by experiencing what it might be like to have a disability.

Can you share more details about the programs where employees get to experience what it’s like for people with disabilities?

We have one event called Dining in the Dark, which is a great team-building event. It’s a dinner that is served by people who are visually impaired, with everybody in pitch black darkness. The diners have to depend on their sense of touch. It gives perspective about what it means to be visually impaired.

Akshai Mallappa introduces audiences to Cisco’s LifeChanger initiative at the 2017 Disability Matters Conference in India

The response was extreme—one person was claustrophobic, another got a headache struggling to see. For most people, it was an “eye-opening” event and gave everyone a good understanding of how it would feel to be blind. Those who attended developed more empathy for their visually and hearing- impaired colleagues, and many were inspired to recruit differently-abled people to their teams to bring in more diversity.

What has being part of CDAN meant to you, and how has it shaped your perspective of Cisco as an organization?

I was pleasantly surprised by the level of involvement from multiple business functions, from the top leader on down. When people find out what CDAN is about, they tend to go all out to help us make things happen. We re- ceive tremendous support and encouragement for our plans and ideas to drive inclusion and diversity at Cisco.

How is CDAN making an impact globally for Cisco?

We have been recognized by industry- leading organizations for some of our efforts, like LifeChanger—a global program that makes use of Cisco teleconferencing tech- nology, flexible workplace policies, and an inclusive workforce culture to create more accessible work environments for people with disabilities. Our APJC region was recently recognized with a Disability Matters “Steps to Success” award.

Can you share a story of an employee who personally benefited from CDAN programs?

We have a blind employee who came to Cisco through LifeChanger. He went through a challenging journey to earn a degree but still could not find a job. Cisco provided the opportunity, and he is shining now as our first visually impaired CCNA (Cisco Certi- fied Network Associate). He is getting great feedback from both customers and his team. It is a true success story. It demonstrates that Cisco is making our company more inclusive and not limiting the view of diversity to race and gender, but including diverse people of all abilities.

What are some ways companies can address the unique needs of differently-abled employees?

The best way to get started with a program to engage people with disabilities is to share ideas. Most companies that are fierce compet- itors when it comes to business are very open to sharing their ideas and best practices around employing people with disabilities.

What advice do you have on how best to engage employees with disabilities?

I would say be bold and take the lead to get involved. Many companies have employee groups like CDAN. These groups bring together like-minded individuals who are looking to make a difference in people’s lives. The experience is very rewarding and ultimately enhances your own personal life. Participating in EROs makes us better employees and benefits our company and society as a whole.

Click here to view the PDF of this featured article in DIVERSEability Magazine!

One Band One Sound – A Musical Path to Secure Your Brand’s Reputation

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By Kenton Clarke

Founder & Social Entrepreneur | Omnikal

A Unified Sound Develops a Lasting Memory

The topic on many corporate minds today and conversations inside corporate teams is one of brand reputation and brand rescue. The most recent examples of message confusion, message delusion and brand salvage have been seen in the form of national ad campaigns, employee communication and corporate leaders’ far-reaching statements. Diversity and Inclusion. These two words are the running theme for the examples mentioned.

I want to ask you to take a minute from this current important conversation-taking place and think about the sound or message you have heard that was the most unified. A sound correlates most easily to the best musical performance you have ever listened to. The end result of that magical work of art is typically the result of a group of talented musicians. The sound creating that feeling it invokes in yourself, whether it be emotion, joy or just beauty to your ears – was one sound coming from one band.

Now you may be asking yourself, what does this have to do with inclusion, branding, brand reputation, and overall company revenue?

There is a tremendous amount of news and activity regarding corporate policy on inclusion and diversity. A recent example involving Unilever’s multi-racial ad for Dove, created an uproar caused by inferences of cleanliness corresponding from darker to lighter skin. The video ad has caused a loss of brand loyalty and created a question in the minds of consumers across ethnic backgrounds. Apple, the Nation’s most valuable brand in the world, recently appeared in our news feed with a corporate executive in charge of instilling diversity and inclusion within the company, having to post an apology for statements made at an international business conference. In fact, you may be reading this with the responsibility of your own brand to manage, corporate message to be authentic and consistent, team to unify, revenue to be met or professional goal to incorporate inclusion in the realm of your own work responsibilities.

As the band now resides in your mind, we all know the sound comes from a combination of instruments, working together to form a renowned musical group, band or orchestra. Let’s take this analogy from band to corporation.

Those same individual contributors in that favorite musical performance that left you with that memorable impression are not dissimilar to the members of your own company you own, work for or buy products from.

“If your brand is to thrive in a competitive market, the enterprise must work in concert to identify, understand and create the behaviors across the corporation to drive repeatable, continuous and measurable inclusion initiatives.”

Be Count Basie

At the same time a unified band or corporation can often not – play or perform as one. The overconfident soloist, the communications department creating a disrupting branding message not corresponding to the company’s end goal are examples of a confusing sound and confusing message. This will result in a dissonance in brand reputation, have immediate impact on company revenue, and can create brand implosion. Such is the case of recent well-known brands  Google, PepsiCo, Unilever (Dove) and Apple whose recent employee statements and offensive ad campaigns have been nothing short of brand implosion and a PR nightmare.

In fact, let’s bring in a famous example of superior sound and a unified message. The Count Basie Orchestra was legendary in sound and recognized for the creation of famed artists under his direction. Count Basie was known for perfection of sound development with member orchestras of 20 or more and was an orchestra leader who developed legendary music still recognized as the foundation of orchestral perfection creating One Band One Sound.

Creating the Perfect Sound

There are key examples in today’s corporate America where the company functions as one with a unified message. I have highlighted HP in a prior post as a corporation who drives an Inclusion culture enterprise wide and demands that multi-culture is presented in national advertising. Just as the CMO, Antonio Lucio of HP faulted his own Advertising firms in failing to bring a multi-cultural team; corporations should follow this example with planning and seamless execution. Howard Schultz, CEO Starbucks is another great example of ensuring Diversity and Inclusion are driven throughout the entire enterprise.

It is imperative for brands to follow the role model of corporations like HP and Starbucks in using forethought, planning and professional guidance in creating a foundation of internal company inclusion and portraying that authentically to the public.

Just as the famous band highlighted here includes a unified group of performers, each company’s C-Suite team members must work together, share messaging plans, and highlight key initiatives through all branded national advertising and representation at any level.

Here at Omnikal, we have developed the Together We Are initiative to address these specific communication needs for large corporations and SMBs. This program provides strategic consulting, internal and external multi-media brand communications and overall company messaging to focus on aligning with the Inclusive Majority Market. Imagine the potential for your brand when your organization is transformed internally, in a way that extends through its leadership, workforce, customers, suppliers, community and stakeholders, creating an enduring, positive ripple effect.

One Band One Sound

-Kenton

OMNIKAL is the Nation’s largest, inclusive business organization, built to empower all entrepreneurs, and small to medium sized businesses through “a powerful social B2B platform” that fuels real growth & success.