Using the Power of Baseball to Help Inspire the Disabled

Posted on Categories Labor & Employment Law

Mlblogo That’s the idea about this campaign by the U.S. Department of Labor and Major League Baseball.

Together, they are launching the ‘PITCH’ campaign to encourage businesses to hire people with disabilities. Former Major Leaguer Jim Abbott, famous in baseball history for being the first pitcher to make it to the majors pitching with only one hand, will be serving as campaign spokesman.

Here are some highlights from the press release:

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP), in cooperation with Major League Baseball, today announced the launch of the PITCH (Proving Individuals with Talent Can Help) campaign to encourage businesses to hire individuals with disabilities.

Former Major League pitcher Jim Abbott will serve as the campaign’s spokesman. The campaign will include radio public service announcements, media awareness activities and appearances at the Little League World Series as well as Major League ballparks during September and October.

Abbott, born without a right hand, was an Olympic Gold Medalist in 1988. In 1993, while pitching for the New York Yankees, he tossed a no-hitter against the Cleveland Indians. He pitched 10 seasons in the major leagues with the California Angels, New York Yankees, Chicago White Sox and Milwaukee Brewers.

Neil Romano, assistant secretary of labor for ODEP, said, “We are thrilled to have the support of Major League Baseball for this significant campaign. Having Jim Abbott as our spokesman demonstrates that given the opportunity people with disabilities can make substantial contributions to any business. Jim succeeded based on his talent. The goal of this campaign and of our office is to have all businesses consider the great talent that people with disabilities can bring to their organizations.” . . . .

According to the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey, the employment rate for people with disabilities in 2006 was 37.7 percent. That is compared with an employment rate of 79.7 percent for people without disabilities, a glaring 42 percentage point difference.

There can be little argument that individuals with disabilities represent a severely underutilized talent pool and I’m glad to see this private-public partnership doing something meaningful to inspire especially children with disabilities to realize that there are many ways to succeed through careers of their own choosing.

I saw this type of success on a first-hand basis as a special education mediator for the State of Mississippi for five years, with kids leaving schools and going on to prosper in educational environments and promising careers.


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