Disability Awareness month is still underway! To celebrate, we’ve interviewed Vivian Knueppel, a speaker for our disABILITY Awareness program. Vivian is third-grade student who loves dogs, volleyball, and ballet! She is a member of the Boy Scouts, and enjoys speaking with her mom, and her service dog, for JMF’s disABILITY Awareness program. Keep reading to learn why Vivian enjoys speaking for JMF, and why she thinks disability awareness education is important.

What brought you to the Joseph Maley Foundation? And why did you decide to start speaking for disABILITY Awareness?

My mom knew about The Joseph Maley Foundation because of their programs that help the community. I started speaking because I have a disability called Type 1 diabetes and I wanted people to know more about it and why I have a service dog.


Can you tell me about your service dog? What’s your favorite thing about him?

Dakota is 3 years old, I got her in July 2019. She’s an English Cream Golden Retriever. She’s from Texas. I like that she’s a girl, like me. I like that she helps me and I like that I can understand her.


Why do you think it’s important that students learn about disabilities, and the people who have them?

So that they learn that students with disabilities are just like you. So students aren’t scared to play with someone because they think they’ll catch their disability, or that because they think they’re too different. People with disabilities are the same as you.


When our disABILITY Awareness speakers finish speaking, there is usually a question and answer session with the audience. What’s been your favorite question that you’ve gotten so far?

My favorite question to answer is: Is Type 1 diabetes contagious? (The answer is no.)


March is Disability Awareness Month, what would you like others to be more aware of when it comes to people with disabilities?

That they’re just like you, even though they have something different. You can say hi and be friends with someone, even though they have a disability.