Reflecting the important role disability plays in workforce diversity, this year’s National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM) theme is “#InclusionWorks.” Observed each October, NDEAM celebrates the contributions of workers with disabilities and educates about the value of a diverse workforce inclusive of their skills and talents.
The “Switching Gears” Summer Youth Program through the Darke County Board of Developmental Disabilities (Darke DD) helps students focus on career exploration, employment preparation and life skills. The five week program ran Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays from July 12 through August 11, 2016 and was open to Darke County students, ages 14 and 15, who receive services from Darke DD. Most sessions were held at Edison State Community College’s Darke County Campus. Students participated in a variety of activities to help them build skills in communication and teamwork. Continuing to fund, coordinate and support a variety of programming to individuals with disabilities, this program is just one way Darke DD assists individuals with transition skills and with coordinating services between school, home and job-readiness training to help students develop a post-graduation plan.
(L to R) Chad Beanblossom, Dean Edison State-Darke County; 2016 “Switching Gears” Summer Youth participants; Kathryn Osborne and Cheryl Pressly (Summer Youth Instructors).
During their first week students focused on communication by participating in hands on activities, listening to a guest speaker and completing a business tour. One favorite activity was “People Search Bingo” where students cover a bingo square by finding someone in the class with whom they have things in common. Although the students attend six different schools, this activity allowed them to learn more about one another and to develop bonds. Another activity was titled “Marvelous Me” whereas; each student received a snack sized bag of M & M’s. Before eating each M & M the students answered a question aloud based on the color of the candy. These activities and others helped them practice talking about their strengths, abilities, and interests. The guest speaker for week one was John Rediger. John previously worked with Darke DD to assist in his job search and was more than happy to share his experiences of working at Kroger, volunteering, driving, and being engaged in his community. John encouraged the students to aim high, work hard and never give up on their dreams. On Thursday, the students enjoyed a tour of The Merchant House. Cassie Campbell, Managing Partner, and her team treated the students to a delicious pizza that the students topped themselves. While touring the Merchant House they learned about a variety of jobs in food service and what it takes to be successful in that field.
Darke DD“Switching Gears” Summer Youth Program a Success
Each spring the junior and senior students from Ansonia High School coordinate a picnic fundraiser titled “Pay It Forward.” The goal of this fundraiser is to raise money to donate to a local service need. This year they were able to tie their fundraiser to an English reading assignment titled “Flowers for Algernon.” This story was written in the late 1950’s about a man with intellectual disabilities named Charly Gordon. In the story, Charly undergoes an experimental procedure to obtain normal intelligence. The students gained insight to Charly’s thoughts and feelings through his journal entries as he gains intelligence and eventually regresses back to his original IQ.
AKtion Club officers, Ruby Sacher and Darlene Bowers accept an $885 donation raised by Ansonia High School students.
Casey Robison, junior English teacher, was reading the book on her computer, when she received a Facebook notification from the Darke County Board of Developmental Disabilities (Darke DD). Curious and a bit taken back by the coincidence, she went to Darke DD’s Facebook page and read many wonderful stories about the contributions that people with disabilities are making in Darke County. It was in that moment that she considered connecting the picnic fundraiser to the book and connecting both of these to Darke DD. As Mary Lochtefeld, senior English teacher said, “It was kismet!”
Darke DDAnsonia Students “Pay It Forward” to AKtion Club of Greenville
Did you know that there are currently 45 individuals working in the Darke County community who receive assistance from the Darke DD (and their respective partners) to retain their competitive employment jobs? Did you know that Kroger employs nearly 9% of these individuals? This is an amazing statistic that verifies Kroger’s commitment to the community of Darke County and all of the individuals living within it!
When reviewing the corporate website of The Kroger Co. you will note that one of its commitments is to “be a preferred employer where every associate feels valued and customers recognize that our people are great.” They further state that they will support this commitment through diversity – one of the company’s six core values, which says that they “seek and embrace differences in the backgrounds, cultures and ethnicities of all associates, customers and vendors.” March is Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month and the Darke County Board of Developmental Disabilities (Darke DD) would like to give a shout out to Kroger who assists individuals in becoming active members of the employment community.
Darke DDGreenville Kroger Supports a Diverse Workforce
The Darke County Board of Developmental Disabilities (Darke DD) recently welcomed a new board member, Joseph Latas of Greenville, to fill the vacancy for an unexpired term ending December 31, 2016. Mr. Latas is an attorney for the law firm Marchal and Marchal located in Greenville.
The board is made up of seven volunteer members: five are appointed by the Darke County Commissioners and two are appointed by the Darke County Probate Court Judge. Board officers are John Miller, President; Carol Bruss, Vice President; and Pam Pohlman, Secretary. Board members are Brad Bixler, Joseph Latas, Kristi Spille, and Madonna Winner. Each member must be a county resident.
Darke DDDD Board Works to Empower People and Explore Possibilities
March is Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month. As we continue our series this week with the theme, “What’s Your Story?”Darke DD invites you to get to know someone with a disability. Take a moment to learn their story and create a connection. Everyone has a story. What’s yours?
Early on in John Stewart’s adult life he worked at several fast food restaurants and it was evident from day one that he had a strong work ethic. However, after moving, transportation issues lead him to attending Wayne Industries sheltered workshop. As with all other jobs that John had worked, he brought determination and pride to this job as well. When asked if he would like to obtain another job in the community, John emphatically stated yes. This is when he was signed up to receive employment assistance through the Employment First Partnership.
Left to right: Midmark teammates Sheryl Lange, John Stewart and Jody Stump.
Darke DDDarke DD Series: What’s Your Story? – John Stewart
(Greenville, Ohio) – The Darke County Board of Developmental Disabilities (Darke DD) embraces Ohio’s Employment First Initiative of “envisioning a time when every working age adult with developmental disabilities has opportunity to seek jobs that fit their skills and interests.” The board believes in each person’s potential to work and become active members in their community, as stated in their mission statement “to empower people with developmental disabilities to explore possibilities for their lives by maximizing independence, community participation, employment, and economic self-sufficiency in their daily life experiences.”
As we continue our efforts in celebrating March as DD Awareness Month and this year’s theme “What’s Your Story?” we take a look at one of the unique opportunities that the board has engaged in – an enclave-to-work partnership with Greenville Technology Inc. (GTI). This week’s “What’s Your Story?” features two individuals with successful stories but first, a little background on the enclave.
Darke DDDarke DD Series: What’s Your Story? – Ashton and Chase