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Despite physical distancing guidelines, a newspaper insert in SevenDaysVT finds a way to spread neighborly cheer and celebrate people with disabilities in their communities.
In many ways the coronavirus pandemic has made it difficult to participate in activities that are supposed to rally towns together, like Earth Day and Green-Up Day, but staying inside has not stopped members, friends, and allies to the Vermont Developmental Disabilities Council from saying, "Hello, Neighbor."
A project four years in the making, "Hello, Neighbor" is an eight-page newspaper insert that shares the lives of several rural Vermonters with disabilities, while also answering questions like "How do I connect with my peers?" and "What is the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act?"
"Hello, Neighbor' is a newsletter for everyone -- It's our way of shaking hands and being good neighbors without actually having to step outside."
- Kirsten Murphy, Executive Director to the Vermont Developmental Disabilities Council
Council members knew they wanted to raise public awareness, they just weren't sure where to start or how to circulate the finished product. It wasn't until VTDDC's Executive Director, Kirsten Murphy, held an insert titled "Inclusion in Sacramento" that she realized it didn't have to be a pipe dream. She put out a Nationwide bid to see who could complete the project and within days her inbox already had several responses.
Over the next few months Council staff worked closely with N&R Publications, and the people they were interviewing, to craft an accessible newsletter that everyone could enjoy.

Side note:

  • The "Hello, Neighbor!" insert is currently featured in your local newspaper, so be sure to grab a copy from your local gas station or super market sometime this week.
  • N&R Publications has several years of experience interviewing and showcasing Americans with intellectual and physical disabilities.