TROY — The Miami County Board of Developmental Disabilities at Riverside hosted the 2019 Regional Advocacy Conference on Friday, Sept. 27.
Several surrounding county boards of DD were represented by members and clients who attended the event. Also in attendance was Audrey Ferryman, Joshua Cook and Olivia Caldeira, who each led break-out sessions, as well as Jeff Davis, director of the Ohio Department of DD, who served as the keynote speaker.
The annual conference aims to support people with developmental disabilities in finding their voice and speaking up for themselves when it comes to personal choices with regard to care and assistance so that they may have the quality of life they want and deserve.
“I think the world is yours and we’re going to help you decided how you want to live it, what you want to do, and what you want to accomplish,” Davis said. “We’re going to help you so that you can be everything you want to be just like everyone else.”
Davis shared a story about an experience he had while attending a Project STIR event. “STIR” stands for “Steps Toward Independence and Responsibility.”
During this event, Davis said, everyone was asked to introduce themselves and to talk about the last time they “spoke up for themselves.”
“I couldn’t help but think, ‘I don’t think about the last time that I spoke up for myself.’ It’s just natural and I do it every day — some of it by position and some of it just in the natural way that you interact with one another,” he said. “What I’m saying it that it should not be an accomplishment or event for you to talk about what you wish, what you want to do, and what you think. It should be just a natural conversation like it is for everybody else.”
Davis opened the floor for an impromptu comment and question session during which attendees and clients of local boards of DD shared personal accounts of seeking advocacy, as well as hardships and trials they’ve experienced along the way.
“We, as professionals, are here to support you, all of you, so we have to get better all the time at figuring out exactly what that means,” Davis said.
The conference included lunch, followed by three break-out sessions guided by Ferryman, whose session focused on healthy relationships; Cook, who focused on the idea that technology may be able to assist people with increasing independence; and Caldeira, who spoke about adult advocacy centers.
According to Riverside Superintendent Brian Green, Regional Advocacy, a seven-county collaboration meets once per month, at a different county each month, as well as for the annual fall conference, to discuss a variety of self-advocacy topics and to share what is and is not working in each program.
“We really address some tough but important questions, concerns and ideas within self-advocacy,” Green said. “We want to help people learn to discover their own interests and figure out how to find their voice and express that. These meetings also help us as a county board to assist clients in explaining their wishes effectively.”
The Miami County Board of Developmental Disabilities (Riverside) serves more than 1,000 people in Miami County and work to help each client navigate life and achieve their goals regardless of age, ability, or diagnosis.
Funding for the MCBDD is mainly funded locally, with 70 percent of funding coming from local levies, while 30 percent comes from other funding sources.
Riverside works to provide an individualized approach and also helps with early intervention for ages zero to three, housing coordination, recreation and Special Olympics programs, advocacy training and family education, and training for direct support professionals.
To determine eligibility, call 440-3080, and to learn more about MCDBB, visit RiversideDD.org.
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