By Phil Pangrazio
Welcome to 2020. It even sounds strange to say. The first thing I am reminded of is that the ADA will soon be 30 years old. I’m so thankful that I’ve been a part of these past 30 years, and I’ll be writing more about the upcoming anniversary and what it means to me as it draws closer.
As I was thinking about what to write about at the 11th hour–as I always do–one of my VPs came in to chat about approving an expense. But with him was a young man. He was in the eighth grade and was shadowing the director, learning what he does on a day-to-day basis.
After being introduced, he reached, shook my hand and said to me, “Someday I want to work here.”
I smiled and thought to myself, “dang I didn’t expect that,” but I knew he truly meant it.
He’s been coming to the Sports & Fitness Center for many years with his family, and we occasionally ask them to participate in some of our promotional campaigns.
What I saw in him was confidence. Sure, it was raw and almost humorous, but it was genuine. And he’s exactly the type of person I hope does want to work for 360 in the coming years. I’m reminded that we need to be cultivating and recruiting every day if we want the best on our team.
In the last few years, we’ve had many conversations about doing more at 360 to support our youth. What can we do to make sure there are even more improvements between the 30th anniversary of the ADA, and that of the 40th and 50th?
So with this opportunity to communicate to those who read LivAbility, I want to challenge each and every person out there who has a disability and who has talents, skills, accomplishments, or even hobbies, to share. Be on the lookout. Lookout for somebody younger, maybe somebody with a similar disability or any disability, and allow them to shadow you. Let them watch what you do, see how you work, and grasp how you have succeeded. Let them observe, absorb and learn.
I think it would be naïve to assume that someday all people with disabilities will be treated just like everybody else. People of minority status who have been fighting this fight as long as we would laugh at that notion. Without question, we need to be encouraging tomorrow’s leaders, advocates and changemakers.
So welcome to the next decade. It’s the decade that I want to double down on the next generation.