On March 4, five advocates from Fayette County chose to attend the 2020 Developmental Advocacy and Awareness Day — an event that has taken place at the Ohio Statehouse for more than a decade, with the theme this year of “Live, Work and Go” where we want.
This event is funded by a grant from The Ohio Developmental Disabilities Council (ODDC). ODDC is one of a national network of state councils, committed to self-determination and community inclusion for people with developmental disabilities. One of the council’s goals is to educate policymakers about how state government services and policies can be improved, expanded, or strengthened on behalf of people with disabilities. ODDC believes it is important for the policymakers of Ohio to hear the voices of people with disabilities and their families through this event.
The annual event opened with emcee, Shari Cooper. Guests speaker, Patti Ruble, shared how she helped others to “LIVE within their communities.” Joseph Trisler spoke about “Work,” as he has a full-time job and has his own side business. Trisler is proof that a diagnosis does not have to mean disaster. For “Go,” Nick Comstock shared his story of “breaking out of his cell,” when he wanted to go to McDonald’s, but didn’t have transportation to get him there. Comstock is working with the Empowerment Center for People with disabilities on an initiative called the Family Network Project. This project is designed to help people with disabilities and their families become more integrated with the folks in their communities.
After the rally in the atrium, the Fayette County constituents took the opportunity to meet with Representative Gary Scherer and Senator Bob Peterson’s legislative aides. During the meeting, the people advocated for the right to, “Live where they want, Work where they want, and Go where they want to go.”
One advocate stated, “I am happy where I live now, to have some independence, but I still need some support. I appreciate the work that has been done for the Direct Service Professionals, giving them more money, but, I still think that there is more to do. A staff person told me, that if it wasn’t for the food bank, they would not have been able to afford Christmas dinner. That is why I think we still need to find a way to pay the Direct Support Professionals more money.”
The people also wanted to share a positive thought, “Transportation is improving some, within Fayette County, offering more stops to the deviated route, and we really appreciate that.”
Fayette County advocates wanted to make sure that the legislature knew that the work that they have done thus far is appreciated. Another point of discussion was employment. Advocates would like to see more employer incentives, to encourage businesses to consider hiring people with disabilities. At the end of the meeting, Senator Peterson was able to meet with his constituents and talk with them briefly and thanked them for coming and sharing their concerns.
To watch the event in its entirety, visit the link below: