|October 16, 2012 -
The City of Knoxville is welcoming more than 20 people with various disabilities on Wednesday, Oct. 17th, who will be shadowing City employees in areas ranging from the mayor's office to the parks and recreation, communications, fleet services, and engineering departments.
The visits are part of Disability Mentoring Day 2012, which pairs workplace mentors with individuals who have disabilities in a field they are interested in exploring. Mayor Madeline Rogero will welcome one of the mentees, Allison Gose, who will spend Wednesday afternoon with the mayor.
Disability Mentoring Day was established in 1999 as part of a White House initiative to promote National Disability Employment Awareness Month. The annual effort to promote career development for students and job seekers with disabilities has grown from less than three dozen participants during that first year to thousands of people who participate nationwide today.
"We have the most mentees we've ever had this year, and it's really exciting to have Mayor Rogero participate personally," said Stephanie Cook, the city's ADA coordinator. "This is a great opportunity for people with disabilities to learn more about the fields they are interested in, and it's also a chance for City employees to really see that people with disabilities have the same career interests and goals as anyone else."
The City has participated in the program since 2003, starting out with a single individual. The program is expanding outside of city government as well. Besides the City, 11 Knoxville area companies are taking part in the Disability Mentoring Week in Knoxville this year - up from only six in 2009.
A breakfast event to recognize the mentors and mentees is set for 8 a.m. Monday, Oct. 22nd, at the downtown Hilton and the public is invited. The keynote speaker is Fiona Hawks, an advocate for people with disabilities. Tickets are $25 and proceeds go to support the Knoxville Area Employment Consortium, which focuses on increasing employment opportunities for individuals with disabilities. For more information about the event, contact Tina Jones at 865-594-6060 ext. 1105, or at email@example.com.