1 of 2
2 of 2
March is Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month, and while 2014 marks a year of change for Summit DD, its passion for those it supports remains the same. The agency believes that every person adds value to a community. That’s why it offers a lifetime of support to more than 4,000 adults and children with developmental disabilities across Summit County.
Whether you’re the parent of a young child participating in story time at your local library, a teenager exploring career possibilities for the future, or an adult practicing self-advocacy, Summit DD provides the personalized supports to help people achieve dreams.
A New Leader
In late 2013, Summit DD’s board selected John Trunk to lead the agency into a new and exciting era. Trunk brings many years of experience and innovative ideas with him. He’s committed to building relationships and creating new collaborations with partners that will continue to propel the agency forward in 2014.
“We need to take on a leadership role in the community to make our neighborhoods a welcoming place for individuals with developmental disabilities. Everyone benefits when that happens,” Trunk says. “We have an important job to do here, we will work hard to listen and to get it done.”
A New Definition of Community
Kids are kids! That belief is why the agency strives to ensure that Summit County’s youngest citizens and their families have the tools they need to succeed in their communities. Through Early Intervention services, community inclusion programs and school-age support, Summit DD works with families to build supports that are flexible yet customized to each family.
Summit DD is also there to support community programs and child care centers through the agency’s Community Partnership for Inclusion (CPI) program. Through this program, Summit DD staff provides inclusion training to organizations in the community which ultimately increases inclusive opportunities for all children, with or without disabilities.
“Our staff is able to offer strategies, training, equipment and other adaptations which ensure the success of inclusive experiences,” says Holly Brugh, director of Children’s Services at Summit DD. To date, the CPI program supports 26 privately run child care centers and has trained 475 child care professionals in Summit County.
Support doesn’t stop with infants and preschoolers. School-age children sometimes need a little extra support too. From assistance with Individualized Education Plans, or IEPs, to summer camps, Summit DD is available to help.
A New Inclusive Workforce
From birth through adulthood, Summit DD believes that the best supports are created when people are empowered to work toward goals they set for themselves, and for many adults, dreams include employment. The agency offers a variety of supports to help make informed choices about community employment, uncover vocational talents and participate in integrated, community employment. Summit DD connects people to the individualized supports they seek.
A person-centered approach provides adults in center-based environments the opportunity to learn and practice self-advocacy, as well as make informed choices about their lives, including decisions about employment. Individuals who are able to and want to work in the community have the opportunity to work toward discovering their interests and talents to gain community employment.
The agency also offers job exploration supports for youth during transitional years. This allows teens to uncover interests, as well as identify and develop skills needed for community employment after graduation. Last year 65 teens participated in job exploration through Summit DD-funded programs, uncovering vocational ambitions and preparing them for future employment.
Businesses are stronger when a person’s ability, not their label, defines them. Job training and job coaching services, provided by Summit DD and private providers, enable adults with disabilities to gain competitive employment and seamlessly integrate into the workforce.
The agency celebrates the many success stories of individuals employed in group and community settings, as well as the entrepreneurs, supported through Summit DD’s Microenterprise program, who are helping shine a light on the importance of community employment for adults with disabilities. Currently, Summit DD supports more than 300 people in community-integrated employment.
A New Vision for the Future
This is a new era, a new vision of inclusion and a new definition of community … for everyone. Together, with our more than 200 partners, Summit DD works to ensure those living with disabilities experience the full benefits of community. The agency is passionate about those it supports and believes there are great things ahead. Join us in celebrating Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month and get inspired by the many stories of greatness at SummitDD.org/Stories.