Every quarter the Ohio Self Determination Association, or OSDA, selects a developmental disabilities organization to host a regional advocates meeting. This quarter, Summit DD was chosen to host the collaborative event. More than 120 advocates, support staff and law makers from six counties came together to expand awareness and share self-advocacy best practices.
“It was a huge success…Summit DD did an excellent job of hosting and accommodating our record-breaking number of attendees,” stated OSDA Vice President, Kristi Earle.
The group engaged with several presenters about the Employment First initiative as well as the Medicaid Asset Limit. Then self-advocates joined together in a powerful discussion about the changes they’d like see for individuals with developmental disabilities in the community.
If I could change one thing about my local community, what would it be? This question opened the conversation. One person called for better public transportation, and another hoped for businesses to open more jobs for people with developmental disabilities. One self-advocate stated, “People need to realize that just because you are disabled, doesn’t mean you can’t make your own decisions!”
The conversation then moved onto individual’s services and support. If I could change one thing about the services I receive, what would it be? Some common responses included, more aide, better pay and longer alone time.
The last question generated very strong responses. What is the one thing legislators and policy makers should know about me? A young lady quickly responded, “When they say, ‘that’s not for you’ I’d like to prove them wrong.” An older gentleman then declared, “We are not helpless. It’s not what we are, it’s what we can become!”
Finally, a young man stood up and proudly stated, “You can do anything you want to do. It’s your life!” His belief truly defines self-advocacy for people of all abilities. We all have the right to choose our own path.
Bill Payne, Summit DD’s Senior Director of Board Services and Supports, shared his thoughts with the entire group at the close of the event. “Our Agency will always help and assess. But this comes down to civil rights. Your self-advocacy, your passion and your voice today is what creates change.”
Summit DD is proud foster self-advocacy principles and practices because everyone has the right to work, live and learn as equal citizens in the community. Check out Summit DD’s online self-advocacy resources.