DARKE COUNTY — October is not only Down Syndrome Awareness Month, but it is also National Disability Employment Awareness Month, and several areas businesses, as well as individuals, are celebrating and doing their part to raise awareness.
CA Group Inc., which provides services to people with disabilities in the county, has been highlighting employment awareness by celebrating success stories of individuals who hold area jobs.
Beth Butler, CEO, shared how the organization is recognizing those who have been employed with the same employer for a significant amount of time.
“We are also celebrating business partners who help make this all happen by working so closely and well with us,” said Butler.
Currently, the CA Group is celebrating via social media on both Facebook and Instagram.
OhioMeansJobs Darke County offers Disability Employment services through their partner organization, Opportunities for Ohioans with Disabilities (OOD).
At the first of the month, OOD recognized more than 500 Ohio companies who work with the organization to help those with disabilities find careers.
Also celebrating and representing this month, a dozen differently-abled artists set to work on paint pour projects at Memorial Hall thanks to the support of the Anna Bier Gallery. The group is composed of individuals from Art Sense in Union City, Your Happy Place in Greenville, and PCS (Person-Centered Services) with the supplies donated by the UC Arts Depot.
Amanda Mote, the new leader of the Fine Arts Department at the Great Darke County Fair, was at the helm for the afternoon workshop.
The plan is to frame the work once complete and display it amongst various businesses in the community. After the display, the group will auction the artwork with the monies raised to go to charities of their choosing. Several individuals who were participating that day suggested charities for breast cancer and Alzheimer’s groups.
As previously reported, Mote introduced a differently-abled category at the county fair, one open to those with a physical or mental disability that makes them different, not less.
Two unique individuals wanted to share their multiple accomplishments as part of the month’s celebrations – Lauren Warner and Matt Strickland from Your Happy Place.
Both Warner and Strickland have Down syndrome and hold jobs as well as participate in multiple clubs and associated activities.
For Warner, she not only works at Beauty Systems Group (BSG) but was recently named the president of the Kiwanis Aktion Club.
The Aktion Club performs multiple community services such as purchasing toys for Children’s Hospital in Dayton and holding fundraisers with Trophy Nut sales and Miss Wick’s Pies sales.
Strickland was recently recognized at Sutton’s Foods in Arcanum for 20 years of employment. He has worked there since he graduated from high school at Tri-Village and shared how he works in the produce department. He also works at BSG.
Both Warner and Strickland recently participated in the annual Wavaire Camp and will participate in A Night in Hollywood, an annual Special Olympics fundraising event held at the Greenville High School to spotlight the Special Olympian artistic talents.
The two are enthusiastic about not only their employment but share a love for music and dancing. They both dance at Final Bow: Center for Children’s Performing Arts and listed off a host of productions from Beauty and the Beast, Grease, and The Greatest Showman.
It is impossible to capture the spirit and optimism of these amazing individuals in one article. So as October comes to a close, it is essential to celebrate and recognize these remarkable individuals, to highlight their abilities and accomplishments throughout the year.
One area mother, helping to spread awareness and celebrate abilities, wrote the following, where she calls these remarkable individuals our modern-day superheroes:
Modern Day Superheroes
October is Down Syndrome Awareness Month. These amazing individuals, with their almond-shaped eyes and huge smiles, given the opportunity, can teach us more about life than one might think possible. The misconceptions concerning their abilities are still very misunderstood. A new study done by Harvard University concluded that individuals with Down Syndrome continue to learn through adulthood, improving functional skills throughout life.
Our children do have expressive language and articulation deficits, making others think they are not cognitively able to understand what is spoken to them. That is absolutely not the case.
Individuals with Down syndrome have a full understanding of what is said to them. We recently had an older gentleman ask me if Chloe could talk, assuming she lacks the ability to understand spoken communication. Another common misconception is they are always happy. Even though they are smiling most of the time, they are moody, bossy, and stubborn, just like every other child. Doctors give parents a grim outlook as to the quality of life their child will have, offering little to no support in this journey. It is important to change the outdated ideas concerning what Down syndrome is and how it affects our children and our lives. Parents are encouraged to terminate their pregnancies and often times attacked on social media and in public for choosing life for their children. This is based on the lack of understanding that most go on to enjoy independent lives and are in no way a burden to society. We live in an age where everyone is seeking cultural diversity, and yet, our society is unwilling to accept individuals with Down Syndrome as having the same rights. They want to be treated like people, nothing more, and nothing less.
As parents, we have an automatic bond with one another, an immediate understanding of the trials and the triumphs. We are behind the line of sight, cheering our kids on, celebrating their successes, and nurturing their friendships. In the fall of 2017, Final Bow Center for Children’s Performing Arts started offering classes for children and adults with special needs. Our kids perform in the spring recital and don’t miss a beat in their performance. They truly amaze me, and as we watch backstage with tears of joy, we are so blessed for this opportunity Final Bow has given our children. I have grown to see the world through Chloe’s eyes over the years. They see the beauty in life, love with a heart that is pure, a genuine love for life and those around them. Although the road may be different from what we originally planned, the journey has been far more blessed than I could have ever imagined possible. They truly are our “Modern Day Superheroes.”
Just imagine how different life would be if we all shared the same perspective.
Reach reporter Bethany J. Royer-DeLong at 937/548-3330 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Read more news, features, and sports at DarkeCountyMedia.com.