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National Developmental Disabilities Month focuses on imagining the future

March is National Developmental Disabilities Month, and in its 50th year, the focus is on keeping the sameness of everyone in the forefront all year round with the theme of “Always There.”


Imagine the future, a future filled with bright, smiling faces where the focus of people’s attention is not on the differences between themselves and those with developmental disabilities, but instead on the many same qualities and dreams that everyone possesses.

The Holmes County Board of DD is currently in the midst of its 50th anniversary Always There campaign and Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month. While the month of March is usually reserved for this celebration, Marianne Mader, Holmes County Training Center superintendent, said the idea behind the Always There campaign is that they want to continue promoting the sameness of people throughout the year.

Mader said the Holmes County Board of Developmental Disabilities is excited about the year-long campaign to recognize the 50th anniversary of Ohio’s County Boards of Developmental Disabilities, which also will serve as the theme for this year’s Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month in March.

“The hope is to spread things out over the entirety of the year to keep the unity and sameness everyone in the DD community strives for in the forefront,” Mader said. “DD is a natural part of life, whether people are born with it or it comes at different stages in life. The important thing we always want to share is that people are different, yet we are all the same in so many ways. And we all learn to adapt, which is at the heart of what we want to teach here at the center.”

The Always There campaign marks the founding of Ohio’s 88 county boards by the Ohio General Assembly in 1967. The theme reflects the continuity of support, promotion of opportunity and history of partnership county boards have offered to people with developmental disabilities and their families throughout the past, in the present and in the future.

“Reflecting upon our history and looking toward our future is a wonderful way to mark the 50th anniversary of Ohio’s county boards and DD Awareness Month, which is all about building awareness and understanding among the public about the lives of people with developmental disabilities,” Mader said.

Through personal stories and historical items submitted by county boards and the people, families and communities they serve, the Always There campaign will tell the collective story of developmental disabilities in Ohio and how the role and services of the county boards have evolved throughout the years.

Submitted stories and items will be archived and shared as part of the Always There History Project, which will be launched on the campaign’s website at www.alwaysthereforohio.org in March. In addition to the website, the campaign will be supported through social media channels, posters, billboards, and local and statewide events.

As part of DD Awareness Month, the Holmes County Board of Developmental Disabilities encourages members of the community to submit their personal stories and historical items to the Always There History Project.

Information about how to submit is available at www.alwaysthereforohio.org/submit.

“In Holmes County the board is developing a strategic plan to guide us as we continue to make good on our promise of valuable quality services,” Mader said. “Individuals and families connected to the board/training center and interested Holmes County residents are invited to join us at the training center on Saturday, March 25 to ‘Imagine the Future,’ an opportunity for you to help design the future.”

Mader, who has been involved with the DD community for many years, said the biggest change she has seen over the years is that there has been so much more inclusion for those with DD.

“We’ve seen a real shift from people with DD being seen as people who are different and people who should be kept separate from the world, to others seeing them as people who are capable of adapting and fitting in. We strive to create independence in our clients’ lives and to help people understand that they have many of the same hopes and needs as everyone else.”

According to Mader, the month of March is filled with some exciting activities. The center will host its annual talent show March 20, and March 21 will feature the Holmes County Bucks versus All-Stars basketball game at West Holmes High School.

A special event will take place at the center on March 25, where the Imagine the Future Day will allow families, some local dignitaries and anyone else interested in hearing about the many changes going on right now to affect what the board is striving to achieve.

“It will be informational, but what we really are looking to do is find ways to maintain that Holmes County flavor as state and federal laws change,” Mader said. “There are a lot of things changing and evolving as we continue to move forward, and we want to make sure we maintain the many things that make the Holmes County Training Center so special.”

If anyone would like to attend Imagine the Future Day, they may do so by simply calling Mader at 330-674-8045 or emailing mmader@holmesdd.org.

Published: March 17, 2017
New Article ID: 2017703179971