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Organizations gather at Lorenzi Park for Disability Awareness Day

Moises De Santiago came to Lorenzi Park on Saturday morning to find information about available low income housing from the dozens of local organizations that had set up tables.

It was the first time the Las Vegas resident, who has had epilepsy for more than 30 years, had taken part in Disability Awareness Day.

De Santiago said it was good to see so many resources available for people in the community.

“It gives me hope and a sense of faith that there are people that actually care,” he said. “That are willing to help others.”

De Santiago, a sponsor for The Hundley Foundation, a local epilepsy support group, also offered a bit of advice to others.

“Don’t judge a book by its cover, obviously. Everybody’s going through some sort of hardship,” De Santiago said. “You don’t necessarily have to have a disability. Just try to be kind and understanding and patient with one another.”

The Southern Nevada Center for Independent Living organized the event in coordination with the city and other organizations. SNCIL Executive Director Mary Evilsizer recalled how far the event has come from its first year when “we had like three people attend.”

This year marked the 31st Disability Awareness Day, and organizers expected between 350 and 400 people to attend the event, held every October as part of National Disability Employment Awareness Month.

In addition to providing disability resource information, the event included food and drinks, snow cones and entertainment, as well as a a COVID-19 vaccine clinic.

“I think it’s always been very successful and it gives not just them resources but it helps them to mingle with other individuals, that they’re not alone with this disability. There’s other people in the community,” SNCIL Business Manager Alicia Santiago said. “It helps them with their social ??because a lot of them don’t socialize, they stay within their home.”

Elaine Triplett, who has lived in Las Vegas since 1982, attends the event every year. For a long time, not many resources were available in Las Vegas, said Triplett, who has cerebral palsy.

“I enjoy it because I get to socialize with people with the same needs that I have and to know what’s out there as far as agencies and services,” he said.

Triplett goes to the DRIVEN NeuroRecovery Center, a vendor at Saturday’s event, as part of her recovery from spinal cord surgery.

“People need to speak out so that people can understand, ‘This is what I need, this is what I need help with.’ We’re growing as a community and people need help with other programs such as social security, independent living,” Triplett said.

The Down Syndrome Organization of Southern Nevada also had a table set up at the event. It collaborates with other organizations in the area to provide better care to those it serves, Board Chair Peter Whittingham said.

“That is the reason that we exist. To make sure that our members know the resources. Where they are and how to access those resources and this is a wonderful place to do that,” Whittingham said.

The organization puts on events and programs that focus on education, job preparation and placement and independent living.

“This is essential,” Whittingham said of Disability Awareness Day. “It is essential for people to not just know that the resources exist but how to access those resources. Since I have been here today I have met some of people, some of the different organizations that I am going to collaborate with even more closely.”

Fore more information, visit dsosn.org.

Contact David Wilson at dwilson@reviewjournal.com. Follow @davidwilson_RJ on Twitter.

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