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Developmental Disability inclusion focus of March

Star Beacon - 3/1/2021

Mar. 1—Area advocates for the developmentally disabled are using the month of March to highlight the inclusion of people with such disabilites into the daily life of the community, said Manda Jackson, Community Outreach Education Specialist for the Ashtabula CountyBoard of Developmental Disabilities.

A March focus on the needs of the developmentally disabled has been a part of the American experience since 1987 when President Ronald Reagan proclaimed the month of March a time to focus on the importance of the needs of the developmentally disabled.

"Over time it has evolved to include inclusion day or advocacy awareness," Jackson said. She said each state and each county can fine tune plans for the month as each entity sees fit.

Jackson said the theme of You Me Community is the basis for the 2021 campaign. She said it is important that people with developmental disabilities are made to feel part of the community.

"It [the disability] is a part of who they are, not who they are," she said. Jackson said people with developmental disabilities are no different than the rest of us and want access to education, work, safe living and working environments and relationships.

"Be sure to check out our social media pages where we will be sharing several videos, pictures and resources," Jackson said. She said an advocacy group, People First of Ashtabula County, are planning a meeting with Ashtabula County Commissioner J.P. Ducro to discuss the importance of awareness and community inclusion.

A variety of ACBDD staff and advocates for the developmentally disabled are planning to participate in a virtual event on March 2 at 1 p.m. that will include hundreds of people from throughout the state.

She said an advocacy week will be celebrated in conjunction with St. Patrick's Day activities on March 15. She said a traveling parade is planned with an Irish band, that goes by the name Forsythe Special, visiting some of the day centers where some of the developmentally disabled work.


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