Throughout the course of history, there has been a common trend—strong leaders have strong voices. They speak to create change. They provide a voice for the voiceless. A young Summit County man named Darick is ready to take on that great responsibility, not only for himself but for all people with developmental disabilities. “I want to make change—a difference, for all. That’s what I want to do,” Darick proudly stated.
Darick’s Summit DD Service and Support Administrator (SSA) Michelle Stiles has built a strong relationship with him for almost a decade. “You can’t help someone live the life they want to live without knowing them. That’s the purpose of an SSA,” shared Michelle. “He expresses what he needs, wants, and dreams of. I make it my goal to help him get there.”
“I’m privileged and blessed to have my SSA. She’s been very involved in my life,” said Darick. Together, they have worked as a team to discover his path in life. For many years, Darick pursued art at a studio for people with disabilities. His work was featured in many galleries throughout the county, including the Studios of Jack Richard in Cuyahoga Falls. But as time went on, Darick’s passion began to evolve into something greater.
Darick started participating in various advocacy programs for people with developmental disabilities. He became very intrigued by listening to others with disabilities talk about their wants and needs. “I realized I wanted to be a role model for them. I can be their voice,” he shared. This newfound passion was taken to the next level when Darick started using a disability service provider called Quality of Life. “I remembered when I interviewed Cecily [the Quality of Life owner]. We just clicked. As time went on, I didn’t feel like a person with DD and their provider. I felt like we were one,” Darick recalled.
“Darick is absolutely amazing. We see things at a common level. It didn’t take long for me to realize that together we could create change and start something new for people with disabilities,” shared Cecily. She recently offered Darick a potential staff position to create and implement inclusive programming for people with disabilities at an upcoming Quality of Life day program. “We’re going to think outside of the box and change the way services are provided. He’s the perfect person for the job,” continued Cecily.
During a recent meeting with his Summit DD SSA Michelle, Darick shared, “I feel blessed to be able to start doing this work. Planning programming and classes for fellow people with DD—it won’t even feel like a job!” Michelle then replied passionately “This is your story and passion—to help others. You’ve had obstacles, but have never given up on your passion. I look forward to the future, Darick!”