All Votes Matter

Voting is often seen as the cornerstone of American democracy, but so few people vote leading to a lack of voices being heard. The voting process used in the United States is described in Article II, Section 1 of the United States Constitution. Basically, the process works with a two-part system. On the first Tuesday of November, millions of American citizens go out to cast their vote. This is known as the popular vote, and what few people realize is that this vote doesn’t actually elect the president.

Do you understand what the Electoral College is? I didn’t have a clear understanding of it, so I thought I would take a minute to try to help you to understand how it works.

After the American citizens go out and vote, the Electoral College casts their vote. These electors are people of different states, and the number of electors for each state is the number of U.S. Senators plus the number of U.S. Representatives for that state. Some states have laws requiring the electors of the college to vote for the member that won the popular vote in that state, but others are bound by pledges they made to certain political parties.

The Electoral College is seen as a controversial mechanism within elections. It was designed by the framers of the Constitution because of fears regarding presidential elections. Some politicians at that time believed selecting the winner just on the popular election was too reckless, but other politicians were concerned with giving the power to Congress to select the president. Thus, they created the Electoral College to balance the popular vote and the electoral vote. Most of the presidents of the United States have been winners of the popular vote as well as the electoral vote. However, there have been rare situations in which the winner of the election was one who had more electoral votes than popular votes.

Is the system safe or perfect? Well, it can be ‘safe’ to say that NO system is completely ‘perfect’. These government systems were designed by humans, and humans themselves are flawed. So, how can you expect perfection from a system designed by imperfect beings? The best you can do is to do your part to try and salvage the system.

After learning about the Electoral College, there are a large number of voters who end up discouraged. After all, if the electoral vote is really the only vote that matters, what would be the point of voting at all? However, the popular vote is what helps the Electoral College make their decision. Deciding not to vote because you believe your vote doesn’t matter is basically like handing off the win to the candidate you don’t like. Every vote counts because, again, many states have laws requiring the Electoral College to follow the popular vote of that state. Plus, your vote also puts those electors in the Electoral College.

The system might seem corrupt, but it won’t get any better if you sit on the sidelines complaining about how horrible it is. Voting is your right and your responsibility as a citizen of the United States of America. The democracy of this country was founded upon free and fair elections where every eligible citizen casts a vote.

Withdrawing your vote breaks down the electoral process at its most basic element – the people. The rules set down to guide the voting process were not designed to harm us but rather to help us. The winner might not always be the one we hoped for, but we can move on with hopes that the next vote will lead to our pick being the one to win.

When we vote, it’s not just for those individuals that will go to Washington to lead us. We will also be voting for local representatives, state and city, along with local issues that will affect our local community. These decisions will affect money, education, public safety, roads and many other day to day issues of our lives.

Don’t be one of those individuals that have thrown in the towel with our system. You still have the right and the responsibility to vote. Please do it!

Finding Employment with a Disability

October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month and what better topic to write about than what it feels like to look for employment when you have a disability. All the steps you take even before you decide to take that first step and get that application, the emotions you go through trying to decide if you can even handle all the stares and questions and the possible rejections because of the disabilities you have. When businesses decide that your abilities greatly outweigh your disabilities and see that you can contribute so much to their company it is a win for both of you.

People always say the first step is always the hardest and that is very true. Trying to find a job when you have no disabilities can be a difficult process but when you are faced with physical limitations or mental health issues it can be even more challenging. Businesses may have to accommodate the work area for you just for you to have that job. That can mean they need to invest some money into making their space work for you. As an employee you may need more time off for doctor appointments or other special appointments that other employees would not need. You may need a few breaks or other special equipment that others do not need. Schedules may need to be more flexible or adaptable than others. Even just trying to get through an interview can be terrifying. What do you say or what can they ask? How much do you need to tell them? It can be difficult to know how to navigate through all the questions just right and show them that you are the right person for the job if just given the chance.

Even though you may be nervous and anxious if you let your abilities shine through the employers who are looking to hire are going to see that. They see that you are not letting these disabilities define you. Those are the people they want on their team. Those are the people who will inspire others. It is your abilities that will get you the job you want and will inspire those business to invest the money to make the changes needed if necessary, to accommodate you. There are already quite a few businesses that do a great job in employing people with disabilities. We just need to keep reaching out and showing other businesses to not look at us like we are a disability but to look at our abilities and see how much we can help their business.

By being employed it not only helps us socially but also economically. We do not feel so isolated and do not have to live on the government alone. We can start earning our own paychecks and feel more empowered. That makes for a great employee.

Finding Your Way Back to Managing Your Own Money

When I first came to DCIL in 2007,  I wanted nothing to do with helping to plan my budget or pay my bills. I made sure my bills were sent directly to them and then I stayed out of it. At that particular point in my life my Bipolar Disorder was ruling my life. As long as they paid the bills and we received our spending money and grocery money that was all I cared about.

Slowly as I was getting better I began to want to know more about what was going on with my money and have a little more input about it. But how do you start to do that when you have gone years not having any control at all?  I started asking how much I had in my accounts. I would ask for a little extra money for things that I wanted. Yes, sometimes I felt like a child asking a parent for money, but it did get easier. I realized this was in place to help and protect me. It was still my money. I would get statements at the end of the month so I knew where my accounts stood. I started helping figure out my budget and then came the time when I felt ready to try and have more responsibility. So we decided together to start taking out my spending money all in one shot and I was responsible for that. What an exciting move that was for me! I made out envelopes for every week and I divide up my money. I was so proud of myself because I have been successful in that. We kept doing that for quite a few months and I kept getting better. In time, I felt ready to try more. The next step we took was to try getting all my monthly grocery money. Every little step to me is exciting because I never thought I would ever get to this point. It has been going so well.

Next, I asked if I could write the checks out. DCIL still had to sign them but at least I could physically write them. I had not done that in years. They said I could and I was so happy!! I know who would be happy about paying bills right?  I am. Once I started writing my own checks I started feeling more like a regular person. They allowed me to make more decisions when it came to my money. I felt normal. This has all led up to me being able to open my own checking account and pay the bills myself; something I have not done in so many years, yet I know they are still here if I fall. They have given me the tools and the confidence to know I can do this and succeed at it. I have fought hard to get where I am and it feels so good to finally be here. Managing my own money has been one of the best experiences I have gained from DCIL and I am so glad they have been here to help me.


Prevalence of Substance Abuse

How common are substance abuse disorders among persons with disabilities? According to the Office of Disability, 10 percent of adults in the general population are affected by alcohol, and 5 percent have problems with drugs. By comparison:

  • People with disabilities experience drug or alcohol problems at two to four times the rate of the general populace.
  • People who are deaf or who suffer from arthritis or multiple sclerosis are twice as likely as the general population to develop a drug or alcohol problem.
  • Forty to 50 percent of people with spinal cord injuries, amputations, orthopedic disabilities or impaired vision who use alcohol can be classified as heavy drinkers.
  • At least 50 percent of disabled individuals with mental illness, traumatic brain injuries or spinal cord injuries abuse drugs of alcohol.

The Office of Disability also notes that there are differences in the rates of substance abuse based on the nature of the disability. People with traumatic brain injuries and spinal cord injuries have a substantially higher risk of getting addicted to drugs or alcohol. People with developmental disabilities tend to have the lowest risk of substance abuse.

For those who make it successfully through a drug or alcohol treatment program, many of the disabled experience multiple relapses and don’t achieve long-term recovery. The continued frustrations of trying to access treatment services keep many of the handicapped from staying clean and sober. Getting reintegrated into the community after drug and alcohol rehab can also be more difficult for a disabled person, who may not be able to find meaningful work or maintain strong relationships with sober friends.



Obstacles to Recovery

As if it weren’t hard enough for a person with no disabilities to recover from substance abuse, the disabled have to overcome a number of obstacles just to get into treatment. From prevention to treatment, persons with disabilities are at a disadvantage, notes the Office of Disability:

  • Educational materials about drug and alcohol abuse may not be accessible to people with visual disabilities.
  • Informational pamphlets and brochures may be written at a reading level that’s too high for someone with a learning disability.
  • Substance abuse prevention materials typically display examples of people who don’t have disabilities, which creates the impression that persons with disabilities aren’t at risk.
  • For disabled persons who don’t drive, treatment centers may be located too far from home for easy access on public transportation.
  • Community self-help group meetings may be held in buildings that aren’t accessible to people with limited mobility.
  • Social insensitivity may discourage the disabled from taking part in group therapy with non-disabled individuals.

When it comes to clinical research on substance abuse, people who have disabilities are often left out of clinical studies, unless the study specifically targets persons with disabilities. On almost every level of substance abuse prevention and treatment, resources for persons with disabilities currently fall short of their needs.

Teaching Addiction Counselors to Help the Persons with Disabilities

Providing individual or group counseling for persons with disabilities requires sensitivity to the needs and limitations of this population, states Counselor Magazine ( Addiction professionals who work with the disabled must be aware of the physical and cognitive challenges they face and must learn to integrate these challenges into treatment.

Preparing for Back to School When Your Child has Disabilities

Getting ready to go back to school is a fun and exciting time for most parents and students, but for some it can cause a lot of anxiety and stress just thinking about it. As parents we want our children to succeed and enjoy going back to school but how do we do that if they have disabilities that cause them so much anxiety that their behaviors have become overwhelming?
When a child has anything from Anxiety, ADD/ADHD, Depression, Bipolar Disorder, Autism, Developmental Disorders or any other physical or mental issues, going back to school can seem like a very scary place. So we as parents need to take the time and do what we can to make this transition just a little bit easier for our children.
What can we do? Every child needs to have a good routine that they can count on. Have a little chart that they can understand so they can do some of the tasks themselves to get ready for school the next day, or get ready for bed. It will help ease a little of the anxiety. No one is perfect and we will miss a night or two, but as long as we get most of the nights right, our kids will do better. As hard as it is if we try not to be in a rush in the morning it will make our children more confident. If we start this practice before school starts they will be ready for that first day.
Drive around the school they are attending, especially if they have not been there before. Play on the playground. Let your child get a feel of the school when there are not so many other children around. Have a routine for homework after school so they know what will happen. The more children understand what is going on the less anxious they are. When it comes to school supplies a lot of the schools put all the pencils into a large container and everyone uses them, and for someone like my son that is hard. So I had to make him understand that at school we bought some pencils that would probably be shared. Then I bought some special pencils for homework that were just his. Most importantly, just talk to your kids. You know when something is not right. Keep up on their medication and keep in their life and back to school will be a fun time for them and you.

July 26th Celebration

Join us in celebrating the 26th anniversary of the passing of the Americans with Disabilities Act. There will be games and food for as long as it lasts. When and where?  Tuesday, July 26h from 5:00-7:00 pm, Eagles Park Universal Playground, Mandan, ND. For more info call 222-3636.

ADA Celebration

On July 26, 1990, President George H. W. Bush signed the American with Disabilities Act into law which helped millions of Americans with both physical and mental disabilities to have the same opportunities as all other Americans. Also known as ADA, this allowed for access to public transportation, access into public buildings and not being discriminated against for employment due to your disability.

Without this law many of us would not enjoy our lives we have today. Some of us would not be able to get around and see friends or family, go and get even simple things like groceries, or just enjoy being outdoors. Even just getting to the doctor would be difficult. We could not participate in our local government programs and it would isolate us and make us feel lonely. Some of us would not have made through school either. There are so many things we have been able to do because of this and we need to keep fighting for those rights.

Even though we have some limitations in what we may be able to do, there are many things that we can bring to the table and are able to do just in different and unique ways if given the chance. That is what the ADA does for us. It gives us the opportunity to show that we can do it.

So come out and celebrate how far we have come with ending the discrimination against those with disabilities. Enjoy some food, games, friendship and have a great time at the new Eagles Park Universal Playground located at 100 14th St. NE, Mandan. It will be held from 5:00-7:00 p.m. on July 26, 2016. Hope to see you there!!