MMI’s ‘flocking’ fundraiser will soar in March

The role: Specialized flocking technician.

The task: Place 12 plastic, pink flamingos in yards around the Omaha metro throughout March.

The reason: Raise awareness of the importance of inclusion for those with disabilities.

Because March is National Disability Awareness Month, the UNMC Munroe-Meyer Institute is hosting its annual Flamingo Flocking fundraiser. The goal is to have a bit of fun while raising awareness.

“When we talk about inclusion, we talk about a lot of different communities of under-resourced people,” said Melonie Welsh, director of community engagement at MMI. “Everyone is important. Typically as the conversation continues, people with disabilities seem to be excluded from those discussions and plans. It should happen all year round, but as part of this initiative, we are hoping to move that awareness to top of mind.”

With help from three dozen or so members of the Student Association for People of All Abilities, Welsh and a few others transform into specialized flocking technicians. For $30, the flocking techs will place the flamingos in a yard of the donor’s choosing. For $20, the recipients can have the flamingos removed immediately, or they can choose to relocate them to another home of their choice for $30.

Along with the flamingos, the techs also will leave signs publicizing MMI and the importance of raising awareness about the inclusion of people with disabilities.

“It’s all in fun and to help in spreading the word about inclusion of people with medical and developmental disabilities,” Welsh said. “We ask people to take a picture of the flock in their yard and post it to social media. That just broadens the reach we have with the advocacy.”

Last year, the fundraiser garnered more than $2,100. Organizers hope to match or beat that this year. The money will be used to further the advocacy efforts of the Student Association for People of All Abilities. Welsh said that because of the huge volume of information and skills the students must study while in school, less time is devoted to learning about working with individuals with disabilities. It’s important they do, though, because it’s certain they will cross paths during their professional career, which is why SAPA works to raise awareness among health professions students.

“They create innovative initiatives to help educate themselves and others,” Welsh said. 

If someone is reluctant to get involved because of possible retaliation, don’t worry too much. The flocking technicians will come back to remove the flamingos within 24-48 hours.

“It’s a fun way to get people’s attention,” Welsh said.

For more information or to participate, visit the website or call MMI’s Department of Community Engagement at 402-552-6364. Donors can pay by credit card or check.

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