Commissioners proclaim March Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month


By Meladi Brewer

GREENVILLE — The Darke County Board of Commissioners proclaim March as Developmental Disabilities awareness month. Commissioners Matt Aultman, Marshall Combs, and Larry Holmes were present.

March is recognized nationwide as Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month, the Darke County Board of Developmental Disabilities and the Darke County Community seek to commemorate progress toward improving the lives of people with developmental disabilities, while also highlighting the challenges that remain in achieving a community that fully includes people with developmental disabilities.

“Over 450 disabilities are served at the Darke DD. We have the right services and support to live, work, and play as independently as we can,” a member from Darke DD testified.

She advised with the community’s help, they can create an accessible and inclusive community for everyone. Commissioner Aultman continued the proclamation stating it is the responsibility of each Darke County citizen to recognize and acknowledge the barriers and challenges that can keep people with developmental disabilities from realizing their full potential at school, work, home, and in their communities.

“What this means is we have barriers that you might not recognize as your own,” another member said.

It is important to recognize that members of the Darke County community can contribute to improving the lives of people with developmental disabilities by being strong advocates and supporters of increased independence and community leadership.

“Another barrier is called attitudinal. Please don’t stereotype us. We don’t want to be pitied, feared, or ignored. Don’t assume our quality of life is poor or that we’re unhealthy because of our disability. When you support up, believe in us and include us, so we can live more meaningful lives,” a female member said.

Aultman proclaimed it is important that we expand opportunities for people with developmental disabilities including access to integrated employment, education, housing, health care, and civic engagement in the context of community participation.

“We want real jobs with real pay, so we can be contributing members of our society. We all have gifts and talents. We want to connect with people of similar interests, and we want to add value to our communities,” a Darke DD member said.

As community members, we can help people live their best lives in our community by empowering people with developmental disabilities to explore possibilities for their lives by maximizing independence, community participation, employment, and economic self-sufficiency in their daily life experiences.

A male member advised “community members can help them by giving them the opportunity. People with disabilities are far less likely to be employed, and yet they can make outstanding employees.” He continued to say children with disabilities are almost four times more likely to experience violence than children without disabilities.

“You can be a teammate and be a friend by welcoming someone who has been left out. Include someone in your activity or club, say hello to someone, and there are so many other ways to include us. Choose for yourself,” he said.

Family members, caregivers, and service providers selflessly offer daily care, assistance, supervision, and physical and emotional support to people with developmental disabilities to help ensure their full participation in community life.

“We may not have as big a support system or group of friends as most people. Many times our social life revolves around doing things with our paid providers. Providers are so important,” a male member concluded.

He advised they can and should be included by reaching out with support. By reaching out, those with developmental disabilities will be able to be fully included in the community.

The commissioners proclaimed March 2023 as developmental disabilities awareness month and offered their full support to efforts that assist people with disabilities to make choices that empower them to live successful lives and realize their potential.

The commission board urges citizens to join in the celebration by spreading awareness of the many contributions offered by people with developmental disabilities in the community.

“Break down barriers, people. It is just as easy as saying ‘Hi’. Together, with all of your support, we can create a better, more diverse place to live, work, and play,” a DD member said.

To contact Daily Advocate Reporter Meladi Brewer, email [email protected]

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