The focus of this International Day of Persons with Disabilities is the impact the pandemic has had on these folks.
URBANDALE, Iowa — Urbandale resident Austin Kramer has spent a lot of time at home lately. Kramer said the COVID-19 pandemic is largely to blame.
“I lost my job because of COVID like many other people, but the unique challenge for me is…I can’t just go do any job,” Kramer said.
That’s because Kramer has cerebral palsy. And without his job, time at home has meant time alone.
“Not only did COVID take away my ability to make money and support myself, it took away my ability to interact with people, which almost did more harm than the financial aspect,” he said.
Mike Lightbody works at the Center for Disabilities and Development at the University of Iowa Health Care as a program director for Iowa Compass and COVID Recover Iowa, two groups helping connect Iowans with needed support.
“This year’s International Day of Persons with Disabilities is really identifying social isolation or any kinds of needs that have been exacerbated because of the pandemic,” he said.
Ash Roberts, who works at COVID Recover Iowa as a specialty coordinator is trying to get the word out about those resources. On Friday, she hosted a live Q&A session on Facebook.
Resources for Iowans with Disabilities
Join COVID Recovery Iowa on International Day of Persons with Disabilities to learn about free, confidential resources available to Iowans with disabilities and their caregivers.
Posted by Ash Roberts on Friday, December 3, 2021
“We wanted to make sure that people really knew what was available in terms of social support and mental health support and even kind of resource referral for Iowans with disabilities,” she said.
Those resources can be as simple and as impactful as a “social check-in.” And that help is often just a phone call or text away. It’s the kind of thing behavioral health consultant Libby Conley does every day.
“There was a client that was receiving support by phone and had not been out of the house because of COVID for one whole year. So part of my support of him was just to get him to walk out on the front steps,” Conley recalled.
Right now, Kramer is focused on the job hunt and getting support from a local nonprofit.
We’re working with different companies. My case manager is using her resources to try to find the right situation for me,” he said.
And his advice to anyone who needs a resource for themselves or someone …….