Members | About Workshops | Services for Missourians | News

Dignified and meaningful employment
for people with disabilities

(Return to News Index)

Awareness Month: A Good Time to Remember Seldom Seen Effort

March has been recognized as Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month since 1987 when President Ronald Reagan issued a public proclamation urging Americans to provide individuals with developmental disabilities “the encouragement and opportunities they need to lead productive lives and to achieve their full potential.”

Missouri’s nearly 90 workshops and their approximately 6,000 employees with disabilities couldn’t agree more!

Give Us a Chance!

“Opportunity” is the fundamental reason Missouri workshops were founded, starting more than 50 years ago. Often created first by parents and guardians, these efforts were driven by the need to provide safe employment opportunities for adults with developmental disabilities. Before workshops, hundreds, even thousands of these Missourians spent their days at home with little to do besides watching television. Learning work and social skills was impossible.

Workshops changed all that and more. Not only were proud workers able to learn new skills and earn a paycheck, they often found new friends and developed social networks beyond anyone’s expectation.

Growing Options

In the intervening 50-plus years, workshops have continued to grow and add programs, including support services for workers who want to move to competitive, community employment. These efforts take place with the support of their workshop and the ability to return to the workshop if things don’t work out.

None of this is easy. Although workshops receive some support from county and state taxpayers, they earn much of their funding from contracts with businesses. These involve everything from assembly and packaging to labeling, recycling and maintenance. Workshop staff members are engaged almost constantly in looking for new contracts as they labor to keep their workers employed and the shop in operation, even as they provide extra support and care for a diverse workforce with unique needs.

All of this continues, 12 months a year, every year. March is a good time to remember this often-unseen effort and the many lives it affects.

(Return to News Index)

MASWM The Missouri Association of Sheltered Workshop Managers
If you have questions, please contact:
President Rob Libera – (636) 227-5666 or
or Legislative Chair Kit Brewer – (314) 647-3300 or