CCBDD Spotlight – Spring 2020

CCBDD Celebrates DD Awareness Month

March has been recognized as Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month since 1987, when President Ronald Reagan issued a public proclamation urging Americans to provide individuals with developmental disabilities “the encouragement and opportunities they need to lead productive lives and to achieve their full potential.” Since then, families, self-advocates, advocacy groups and Ohio’s County Boards have been working to increase opportunities for people with disabilities.

During the month of March, CCBDD encourages you to focus on peoples’ abilities and similarities rather than differences, and encourages everyone to welcome people with developmental disabilities into their communities. Many new opportunities are emerging in this spirit throughout the state, including community-based employment options and residential opportunities that more fully integrate people with disabilities. But there’s still more progress to be made. This March, ask yourself if you are doing all you can to make your community welcoming for people of every ability.

Reach 4 More Holds Appreciation Dinner for Employers

 Continuing its focus on finding jobs in the community for those with developmental disabilities, the Columbiana County Board of Developmental Disabilities is to host its third annual Employment Appreciation Dinner, planned for 5:30 p.m. on Thursday, March 12, at the Columbiana County Career and Technical Center. 

Some 100 people, including current and prospective employers and employees, along with staff, guests, clients and family members, as well as members from agencies that help clients with disabilities to attain employment are expected at the event. 

Presentations from CCBDD client, Steven McDade, and keynote speaker, Amy Brooks, will highlight the evening. Steven will be speaking about his community employment experience at Busy Beaver in Calcutta. Amy, who is a lifelong resident of Pittsburgh and attended Northgate High School, was born with an extremely rare condition called Tetraphocomelia–having no arms or legs. 

Can you imagine being born without arms or legs? What would be the quality of your life? How would you cope? What would your attitude or personality be like? How about the depth of your humor, the level of your faith, or your compassion for others? Amy will be sharing her story; once you hear it, you will understand that our potential is limited only by our own self- doubts. “I hope that my story will encourage others and help change their perspective on things they are able to achieve.” said Brooks. 

Doctors predicted that Amy would never achieve independence, but Amy’s family did not accept that and always encouraged her to be independent. Amy is now a motivational speaker, has written her autobiography, self-produces a YouTube Channel and is a talented artist. She can cook, write, take photographs, iron her clothes and even sew. Some of the wallets and purses that Amy has created will be on display and available at the dinner as well as copies of her autobiography, Unseen Arms. 

The main focus of the dinner, said Shirley Bowald, job development manager for CCBDD’s Reach 4 More Program, is to say thank you to businesses for employing those with disabilities and to allow prospective employers and employees to get together.

New Program Expands Understanding of Disabilities

When Stephanie Champlin came to the Columbiana County Board of Developmental Disabilities with a request to develop a new program back in August, we were up to the challenge. Ms. Champlin, a parent and strong advocate for those with disabilities, was interested in the development of a program that would help typical students have a better understanding of those with disabilities, and assist in building empathy.

Josh Martin, CCBDD’s Assistant Superintendent approached Shirley Bowald, who is a manager at the Board of Developmental Disabilities and works in the areas of community employment and integration about the project, and she was on board from the start, stating “Absolutely we can do this!”

From there, Shirley and Courtney O’Brien, also a Board of Developmental Disabilities employee who works with employment issues part-time, worked to develop a series of simulation activities to help others experience what having a disability is like in a significant way. They also developed a Power-point presentation to highlight the basics of some types of disabilities and how they may impair functioning, as well as what the Board of Developmental Disabilities does.

The response to this program has been tremendous. The pilot took place in January at Salem Middle School for 7th and 8th graders with the assistance of Health and Physical Education teacher, Elizabeth Miller. Pictured above, two Salem seventh graders are participating in a lip-reading activity to simulate what it’s like for hearing-impaired individuals to communicate with others.

Matt Zeigler, Principal of Salem Junior High School and a parent himself of a special needs child, had high praise for the program. He would like to see the program be offered every year to the middle school, and is looking at ways to possibly incorporate aspects of it into an assembly next fall.

Interest from the community has also been substantial and very positive. Three other districts have inquired about having the program come be presented in their districts, including Crestview which has been scheduled for April. There has also been interest from the business community to have the program as a possible staff training. For example, Eye Care Associates, Ms. Champlin’s business, is one which would like to have the training.

If you would like more information on the Disability Awareness Program, please contact Shirley Bowald at (330) 424-7788 X133.

Quin’s Custom Stationary

CCBDD is proud to announce that we have partnered with Quin Chamberlain, an individual served by CCBDD, to create a line of custom stationery that will highlight Quin’s artistic talents. The stationary will be used for CCBDD outreach purposes, and will feature original artwork created by Quin. We are very excited to showcase Quin’s talent, and we’re sure you will be very impressed once you see the stationary for yourself!

Pictured to the right is Quin Chamberlain holding some examples of the custom stationery.

Basketball Classic 2020

We are pleased to announce that a time and date for the 2020 Staff vs. Comets Basketball Classic has been organized with the Comets coaches. 

This year’s game will be on Wednesday, March 18th, at 6:00 p.m., at the Lisbon David Anderson High School gymnasium. We will have both a JV and a Varsity game.

Come on out and see the CCBDD Staff team take on the Columbiana Comets basketball team! Admission is free to all.

Award Presented to Crown Theater Productions

On January 7th, CCBDD presented Crown Theater Productions with its first Service Above Self Award, which recognizes members of the community who devote their time and talents to promote inclusion for people with developmental disabilities. The award was presented to Crown Theater director Debbie Salem at their annual special needs performance meeting, with several individuals served by CCBDD present. CCBDD selected Crown Theater Productions to be the recipient of its first award because of their commitment to include people with developmental disabilities in the area of fine arts, which caused the Reader’s Digest to name Columbiana, Ohio “The Nicest Place in America.” Crown Theater Productions will have the award on display in their lobby, and is currently planning their next special needs performance which will be “Once On This Island Jr. – The Musical” in May. Additionally, in February they performed at Disney World in Orlando as part of the Bright Spark Travel theatrical competition.

Robert Bycroft School Upgrades Instructional Program

At the November 2019 CCBDD board meeting, the board approved to purchase eight (8) Boardmaker Online District accounts. Boardmaker Online District is a cloud-based system for delivering personalized instruction and therapy while also measuring student progress. This marks a significant upgrade from the previous CD-based Boardmaker program the school had been using for well over a decade. The new online program has a multitude of features including educational curriculums, assessments, books, and over 31,000 picture symbols to assist students with reading, understanding expectations, communicating their wants and needs, and much more. This online format will allow teachers to assemble and create materials much quicker and easier, while also giving them access to tens of thousands of user-created activities from around the globe. 

As you can imagine, a program with this many capabilities can be difficult to learn. On February 4, 2020, teachers and their assistants participated in a live, after-school training session with a representative of Tobii Dynavox, the company that owns and operates the Boardmaker program. For several hours, the representative walked the staff through the process of navigating the system, creating and editing custom communication boards, searching the online community for activities, and numerous other operations. The program was very well received by the staff, and we are all excited to see the positive impact it will have on student growth and development!\

Billa Coles Receives Award

At the 2019 Ohio Early Childhood Systems Conference, The Ohio Department of Health presented their second annual Home Visiting Excellence Awards. Before the conference, they sent out invites to nominate peers and coworkers for the awards. Then, at the conference, the award-winners were surprised with plaques. One winner was picked for each region in Ohio.Below is the biography of Billa Coles from CCBDD and a photo of Billa accepting her award from Sandra Oxley, Chief of Maternal, Child and Family Health at the Ohio Department of Health.Within her 19 years of service, Billa engages with the most vulnerable populations in our area and has a way of putting families at ease. Billa has the highest completion rate in our agency and the fewest cancellations and a strong family retention rate. Billa is often described by her families as “not judgmental”, “real”, “someone I can relate to”, and “down to earth”. Billa has been invested in helping us build this program from the ground up in our county and has weathered the many changes in home visiting with grace and an open mind. Billa has impacted countless children and families with her accepting attitude.