March is Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month, and students from the Vern Riffe School in Portsmouth were joined by local DD advocates at the Carousel Center to participate virtually in a special kick-off event held at the Ohio Statehouse on March 1.
The DD Awareness and Advocacy Day event at the statehouse included special guest speakers sharing their stories about the care and services they have received and talking about the importance of advocating for DD accessibility and rights. The event also spotlighted the important work performed every day by support staff throughout the state, such as Direct Support Professionals (DSPs) and Service and Support Administrators (SSAs).
“We are blessed to have a quality team of SSAs. The services they are able to provide are very important, and the more individuals we serve the more we can build up their knowledge and give them tools to be successful,” said Scioto County Developmental Disabilities SSA Director Chad Phipps.
While in-person participation at the statehouse was limited, a group of local students and advocates were able to participate virtually by watching the livestream event from the Carousel Center in Portsmouth. Advocates such as Bill and Sherri Adams are helping guide a young couple with developmental disabilities as they prepare to get married, and understanding the changes to their benefits.
“In the past it’s always been a live event, but since the pandemic they’ve added a virtual option; which is great for us because we are 2 hours away. The virtual option also allows us to invite more advocates to join us,” said Theresa Rowland.
During their regular meeting on March 2, the Scioto County Commissioners recognized March as DD Awareness Month in the county. The commissioners were joined at the meeting by local advocates and students from the Vern Riffe School.
Events are planned throughout the month to celebrate DD Awareness and Advocacy, such as the 10th Annual Hardwood Heroes fundraiser basketball game on March 23 at Shawnee State University. Local celebrities will play against a team of players from the Special Olympics VRS Cardinals and the adult Shooting Stars team. This event is open to the public. Admission will be $3 at the door.
For more information about the programs and services at the Scioto County Developmental Disabilities, call 740-353-0636 or visit online at www.sciotodd.org, and like and follow them on Facebook. The SCDD has also launched a new TikTok channel (@sciotocountydd) called “Just Like You.”