WASHINGTON, Feb. 13, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- With fully 70% of working age Americans with disabilities outside the workforce, BMX bike legend and host of MTV's The Challenge, TJ Lavin, is starring in a new public service ad where he says, "whether it is me, you, or someone who just wants to work -- we all should have the same opportunity to achieve the American dream."
Lavin knows how a disability can potentially change a person's life. In October of 2010, extreme sport champion TJ Lavin suffered serious bleeding on the brain, a broken wrist, and an orbital fracture after a bike crash left him in a coma for 9 days. Coming out of surgery, Lavin's body and mind underwent major damage. After years of rehabilitation, Lavin is now 100 percent recovered, happily married, fully integrated back into society and back as a star MTV host.
"People with disabilities deserve an equal chance at employment. While most people don't do BMX, everyone is just an accident, disease or age related issue away from a disability. It is time we respect people for their abilities rather than focusing on their disabilities," said Lavin.
Currently, 1 in 5 Americans have a disability, and 51% of Americans have a friend or family member with a disability. However, 9 million working-age American with disabilities are outside of the workforce (compared to 28% of those without disabilities). This statistic has remained unchanged in the 24 years since the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990.
"3 out of 4 people with disabilities would prefer a job and independence rather than enrollment in government benefits," commented Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi, President of RespectAbilityUSA, a non-profit devoted to empowering people with disabilities to achieve the American dream, which is behind the ad. "Companies such as Walgreens, EY, AMC, MANPOWER and others are proving the hiring people with disabilities (PwDs) is good for the corporate bottom line. When the interests and abilities of people with disabilities are aligned with the needs of employers – all you see is talent and success. It's time to put the stigma of disability behind us, and respect the abilities, so that Americans of ALL abilities can work to achieve the American dream."
The ad was made thanks to the generous support of TJ Lavin, Jonathan Murray, Murray Siegel, Jack Hartzman, Bridges, William Fowler, Evelyn Kelley, Garrett Patterson, Liz Weinberg, Donald Minor, and Elizabeth Weintraub.
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