On March 8, the Fayette County Advocacy group (F.A.C.T. – Fayette Advocating Change Together) attended the Ohio Developmental Disabilities Awareness & Advocacy Day at the Ohio Statehouse.
This day is set aside for all self-advocates, family members and allies to educate policy makers about the issues most important to people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
The month of March is National Disability Awareness Month. This year’s theme, “Side By Side, Hand In Hand, and Heart To Heart” celebrates the fact that people with and without disabilities work, go to school, play, and participate in their communities together.
Speakers for the day included Shari Cooper, motivational speaker and writer for the Dayton Daily News; John Martin, director of the Ohio Department of Developmental Disabilities; Bill Darling, director at Assistive Technology of Ohio, and Stephanie Barber-Maynard, employment and training services director at Creative Connections. Blues guitarist Zayne Harshaw gave a musical performance of several songs, ending with the crowd’s favorite, “Purple Rain.”
An unexpected visit from Ohio Gov. John Kasich brought much excitement to those in attendance. Kasich remarked that this has been a community that too often has been ignored.
“We are beginning to understand, just beginning to scratch the surface of the amazing, hidden skills,” he said of people with developmental disabilities. “You bring about a certain light that no one else can shine, and at the same time, you’ve changed families and loved ones to have an appreciation of life and to be able to reach out to other people and to make a difference in their lives. That’s just changing the world.”
At the conclusion of the event, each county had the opportunity to present concerns to their legislators. The self-advocates representing Fayette County were Buffy, Chad, Doug, Chuck, and Kyler. Buffy and Chad both shared their concerns with State Sen. Bob Peterson and State Rep. Gary Scherer. Buffy spoke about the Medicaid marriage penalty and Chad shared his concerns about transportation.
The F.A.C.T. group (Fayette Advocating Change Together) is just one of the many programs and services provided by Fayette County Board of DD. This group meets on the first business day of every month at Kroger in the upstairs conference room. This organization gives the members a chance to be recognized as a person first by having the opportunity to speak for themselves. They are also given the chance to learn parliamentary procedures and make decisions about what they want to do with their lives, by empowering them to carry out their hopes, plans and dreams.
To see the full DD Awareness event along with the performance of Zayne, Gov. Kasich’s speech, and for more information about any of the services provided by FCBDD, call 740-335-7453, go to www.fayettedd.com or wwwfacebook.com/fayettecountydd.