CRAWFORD COUNTY — The Crawford County Board of Developmental Disabilities sponsored its annual Try On A Disability Day in real life. Director of Community Services Kim Kent said the event has been happening for several years.
Participants were given a simulated disability to take with them as they visited one of the board’s Partner Providers or as the participants went back into the community for the morning. If participants decided to go back into the community, it was suggested that they complete their daily activities as they would any other morning.
Mike Bear, staff attorney for the Crawford County court systems, wore earplugs and worked with other employees putting sleeves on light bulbs at the River Street facility in Bucyrus.
Bear said the hearing loss made it more difficult for him to talk as readily. He wanted to spend time on the job site to get to know some of the people that work there and catch up with others he knew from the community. He said everyone he met was proud and happy to be working. Bear said, if his schedule permits, he’d like to do this again next year.
That, said Kent, is the very purpose of the yearly event.
The Crawford County Board of Developmental Disabilities’ core mission is to provide support services to those who live with disabilities. The board wants to bring awareness of the different kinds of disabilities people in the community are dealing with and how the board can help them.
Among the many services offered by the CCBDD, family support services are vital.
The board helps with various types of services including equipment, Medicaid waivers, day programs, residential services and crisis intervention with services available 24 hours a day and seven days a week.
Court Sturts, superintendent of the Crawford County Board of Developmental Disabilities, is excited about the direction the board is taking in Crawford County.
March is Disabilities Awareness Month and several events have been scheduled.
The board hosted a coloring contest for second-grade students. An individual with a disability created a picture that represents inclusion of a person with a disability with others in the community. One winner from each school will be chosen, along with an overall winner. Each school winner will be recognized at the unified exhibition basketball game March 23 and the overall winner will be announced at the game.
There also was a middle school poster competition. In keeping with this year’s theme “Celebrate CommUNITY,” middle school students were challenged to create a poster to help raise awareness, encourage inclusion of people with disabilities in the community and positively reflect awareness and inclusion.
After participating in the Try On A Disability Day exercise, participants gathered at the Trillium Event Center for lunch and to share experiences.
Owner Dick Gervais welcomed guests and explained that while people avail themselves of the services of the Trillium Event Cente, they also are providing jobs for workers with disabilities.
Two of the featured speakers were Patty Lust and Becky Smithey. Both are parents of children with disabilities and spoke about what the Crawford County Board of Developmental Disabilities has meant to their children and families.
While the board offers services to anyone with a disability, board members said it is important to know that those needing services must be qualified to receive them before the age of 22.
Even if services aren’t required at the time a person is qualified, they must be qualified for future use of services. It is also strongly recommended that people with disabilities begin receiving services as soon as possible. Early intervention may help salvage and strengthen skills that may be compromised because of a disability.
Perhaps, the thought of the day was best summed up by Kim Kent.
“We want to help promote that people with disabilities are individuals; no different than you and I,” Kent said. “They have the right to be in the community and live life to its fullest potential.”