For those who have been a part of supporting individuals with developmental disabilities for any length of time, you know that the system has been ever changing. From the early days of institutionalization and isolation from the community to neighborhood housing and community employment, the lives individuals are living and the systems that support them have come a long way. Like all things, however, the journey never ends, and the opportunities to be even better are always present.
Over the next several years we are going to experience a greater emphasis on creating opportunities for all individuals to interact with and contribute to their community. This will be accomplished locally as part of a well-designed plan developed by the Summit County Board of Developmental Disabilities. The plan will include both transforming our system of delivering services and also preparing the community at-large to assume a greater role in helping people with disabilities become fully included. Be it partnering with community centers, identifying new employment opportunities, assuring that there is adequate housing or making sure people are free to worship at a place of their choice, our goal is to work towards creating a community where all individuals are not just in the community, but are a part of the community.
To do this in a socially responsible way, we must listen to what each individual wants to do with their life. In many cases this involves conversations with family members and other advocates. In the end all decisions will be based on a person-centered plan and the choice of the individual. The role of Summit DD is to assure that individuals with disabilities have the opportunity to choose from the same wide-ranging options as those without disabilities.
As always, our commitment is to keep all stakeholders informed. We will do this through regular written correspondence, social media and public meetings. Look for more information during the next couple of weeks that explains in greater detail the various local, state and federal influences that are challenging our system to reach even higher. Your feedback is encouraged and welcomed.
John Trunk, Summit DD Superintendent