Zionsville resident takes part in Be Cool campaign for Disability Awareness Month

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Em Mais pauses in a campaign of 31 tips to promote diversity. (Submitted photo)

As part of the March being Disability Awareness Month, the Governor’s Council for People with Disabilities launched a Be Cool campaign designed to help others understand how to interact with those with disabilities.

“Just act yourself and don’t treat people differently,” Governor’s Council for People with Disabilities Executive Director Christine Dahlberg said.

Em Mais, a Zionsville resident who is studying psychology and gender studies at Indiana University, took part in the campaign.

“One of the things about this video and campaign that has been the most beneficial to me has been the conversations I have had and the people I have met,” said Mais, who suffers from a chronic illness through a genetic condition. “I have loved getting to hear from other people in the disability community who were excited to have someone who looked like them or was not what most people think of when they think of disability. I have loved getting a chance to educate people about service dogs and how much Quinn (Mais’ service dog) has changed my life. The visibility this campaign has given me to talk about those things and to show one of the ways that disability can look has been wonderful.”

There is definitely an adjustment period for some people in trying to figure out how to interact with Mais.

“A lot of people aren’t familiar with feeding tubes, ambulatory wheelchair users (people who use wheelchairs but can walk some) and service dogs that aren’t guide dogs, which can throw someone off for a second until they adjust,” Mais said. “If it’s someone I don’t know or only need to interact with once, I will generally educate if something comes up but will rarely go past that. Most people who have been in my life for some time or who I interact with on a regular basis get more comfortable with time and as they ask more questions.”

To view video, visit youtu.be/RLLboHQxbK8. The video already has more than 100,000 views.


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