July 19, 2024

Iowa legislature declares March Disabilities Awareness Month

Tanner Webb, who works as a paraprofessional at the Creston Community Schools, said he was surprised to hear about the Iowa House of Representatives’ new declaration.

As of March 9, the House declared March Disabilities Awareness Month, with representatives from Iowa Developmental Disabilities Council, Iowa Vocational Rehabilitation Services, Disability Rights Iowa and other disability advocates in attendance.

The resolution was introduced by Representatives Art Staed (D) and Thomas Jeneary (R) and received bipartisan support.

In House Resolution 9, the legislature shares there are “an estimated 394,000 adults and children with a disability” living in Iowa. This makes up over 10% of Iowa’s population.

In a press release from the Iowa Developmental Disabilities Council (IDDC), they shared “the purpose of the resolution is to bring awareness to the contributions of person with disabilities as well as disability-related issues faced by Iowans across the state.”

Webb explained his his reaction to the declaration.

“We’ve got a long way to go with a lot of different things,” Webb said. “But I think it goes to show that people are beginning to open their eyes a little bit more and realize that people with disabilities can do more and can do different things and impact society in different ways.”

Webb was born with cerebral palsy and is confined to a wheelchair. Despite this, he works hard in coaching football and wrestling, wanting to pursue his passion.

“I know that I have challenges, but you have to find ways to adapt and find ways to do the small things,” Webb said. “That’s why I enjoy coaching so much, because I love sports, I always have.”

Webb also explained his love for hunting and some of the experiences he’s had.

“I’ve had some awesome opportunities,” Webb said. “My dad has always been super supportive of letting me hunt. He used to be a big hunter. A good friend of mine has hunted with me since, I think we started when I was 9. I’ve been deer hunting and turkey hunting, and several years ago, I was able to shoot a bear in Canada with ‘Raised Hunting.’”

Webb said he’s been able to do a lot of these things because of his support system.

“I have been, in my life, very blessed. I have an awesome support system,” Webb said. “I can do the things that I want to do, relatively.”

However, not everyone is that lucky.

“Don’t look at people with disabilities differently,” Webb said. “Treat them how you would want to be treated. Be open minded, don’t put them in a corner or a box based on what you believe. People, I’ve been very fortunate to be surrounded by some awesome people, but there are people that look at you and see certain things and believe certain things… Get to know people, have conversations.”

Webb also pointed out his thoughts are just those, his.

“I can’t speak for everybody,” Webb said. “There’s a lot of different disabilities and not every person’s challenges are going to be the same and not every story is going to be the same.”

Webb hopes to be a guide for young disabled people.

“I’m a para, I coach football and wrestling in small-town Creston, it’s not like I’m running for president,” Webb said. “But if I can be kind of a guide for a kid or for whoever, to show that you can do whatever it may be. You can be an artist or whatever you want to do. That’s what I want to do. I’ll always try to be positive and show people that you can be whatever you want to be.”

Erin Henze

Originally from Wisconsin, Erin is a recent graduate from UW-Stevens Point. Outside of writing, she loves to read and travel.