March is Developmental Disability Awareness Month
March 22, 2021

March is Developmental Disability Awareness Month

March Focuses on Inclusion Initiatives for Individuals with Developmental Disabilities

By Amy Rembert 
The Rees-Jones Foundation’s disability services grant making is centered on providing care and rehabilitative services for children who are adversely affected by a life-limiting physical or intellectual disability. As such, the Foundation awards grants that help increase access to early preventive services, adaptive youth experiences, animal-assisted therapies, and therapeutic and independent living programming for individuals with disabilities. These services promote an improved quality of life, positive social connections, and community engagement – all of which are critical for people with different ability levels who may already feel isolated, alone, and different.

March is National Developmental Disability Awareness Month, which seeks to highlight the importance of inclusive communities where everyone feels welcome, accepted, and loved for who they are.

In Texas, there is an estimated 480,000 children with at least one developmental disability. Each of these children has unique abilities and experiences that contribute to the rich fabric of society.

Canine Companions for Independence trains service dogs that help children with disabilities live full, accessible lives (Photo: CCI website).

When included in church, school, group sports, and the workplace, people with developmental disabilities generally live longer, healthier, more fulfilling lives. For this reason, the Foundation has supported many different types of organizations in North Texas (and abroad) that support individuals with disabilities.

The below organizations are just a few that are working to increase the independence and community involvement experienced by individuals with disabilities:

Canine Companions for Independence

The mission of Canine Companions for Independence is to enhance the lives of people with disabilities by providing highly trained assistance dogs and ongoing support to ensure quality partnerships.

In partnership with Baylor Scott & White Health, Canine Companions for Independence located at the Kinkeade Campus in Irving trains service dogs for individuals with disabilities in North Texas.

A skilled service dog gives individuals with disabilities the freedom and confidence to pursue their dreams. The assistance a service dog provides leads to increased independence, self-esteem, and inevitably, more community involvement and social connections. Since the Kinkeade Campus first opened in 2015, CCI has matched approximately 150 children and adults with a highly-trained service dog.

Helping Restore Ability

Helping Restore Ability envisions a future in which no Texan with a disability lacks the resources to live a full an independent life.  

Helping Restore Ability works to ensure that children and adults with disabilities have the resources required to live full, independent lives. HRA provides children with disabilities from low-income families with personal care attendant services for life. This supports a child’s ability to remain in his or her community, with his or her family, and avoid hospitalization or a nursing home.

Personal care attendant services are crucial to the well-being of a child with disabilities and his or her family, because with the help of a trained attendant, children can attend school with friends, go out for a meal, attend community events, and accomplish everyday tasks such as bathing and dressing.

Without such support, children are reliant on family and friends to assist them in every aspect of their life. By removing this barrier to independence, HRA is actively strengthening and supporting families and their children across Texas.

RISE provides access to adaptive sports like waterskiing (Source: RISE website).

RISE Adaptive Sports

The mission of RISE Adaptive Sports is to assist persons with physical challenges to Recover, Inspire, Succeed, and Empower (RISE) themselves and others by providing inclusive adaptive recreational sports programs.

RISE Adaptive Sports provides an inclusive, adaptive, and therapeutic recreational sports program that inspires and empowers individuals with developmental disabilities to overcome their self-perceived shortcomings and achieve whatever it is that they desire in life.

RISE does this through facilitating fun, safe indoor and outdoor sports programming year-round with more than 600 different program dates offered in various locations across North Texas. There are approximately 20 different adaptive, therapeutic activities to choose from, such as hunting, camping, sailing, rugby, water skiing, wheelchair motocross, and handcycling. All activities are open to all ages and ability levels, and family members may participate also.

Through participating in RISE programming, children with disabilities become more mobile, strong, and self-confident. They develop social skills, make new friends, are better equipped to self-advocate, and are able to engage in community activities. RISE is a unique program provider that eliminates barriers to children’s happiness, and promotes community inclusion to enhance society overall.

For more about the Foundation’s Chronic Health and Disability Services grant making, please visit

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