DD Awareness Month celebrated with luncheon

| March 9, 2016
Awards: Several awards were handed out at the Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month luncheon held March 9 at the Frontier Power Community Room. Pictured, from left, in front are: Sarah Brady, volunteer of the year and Halle Wright, youth advocate of the year and in back are: Dan Carpenetti and Chris Gallagher from Thompkins Child and Adolescent Inc., which was honored as partner of the year, Dave McCarty, distinguished service; Dewey Turbeville, support professional; and Michael Ashcraft, individual achievement. Beacon photo by Josie Sellers

Awards: Several awards were handed out at the Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month luncheon held March 9 at the Frontier Power Community Room. Pictured, from left, in front are: Sarah Brady, volunteer of the year and Halle Wright, youth advocate of the year and in back are: Dan Carpenetti and Chris Gallagher from Thompkins Child and Adolescent Inc., which was honored as partner of the year, Dave McCarty, distinguished service; Dewey Turbeville, support professional; and Michael Ashcraft, individual achievement. Beacon photo by Josie Sellers

COSHOCTON – What’s your story? We all have one including those with developmental or physical disabilities.

“I like our theme for Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month a lot because we all have a story to tell, but people with disabilities don’t often get asked about theirs,” said Steve Oster, superintendent of Coshocton DD. “Start a conversation with them. You will be surprised by what you have in common.”

Several stories of how Coshocton County Board of DD programs have helped local people were shared during the March 9 Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month luncheon at the Frontier Power Community Room.

Two of the stories were shared through video interviews and one of them was from a mother of twins who was connected with Help Me Grow services. She explained how Help Me Grow taught her what to expect from multiples and how to interact with them. The other story came from a mother who sensed that her child had problems at a young age, but his speech development issues weren’t confirmed until he was 18 months old. She was referred to speech therapy, but then contacted Hopewell School who connected her with Help Me Grow. He was eventually diagnosed with Autism but is now doing so well he doesn’t even qualify for an individualized education plan (IEP) for kindergarten.

“What’s cool about both of these stories is that the children’s lives could be quite different if they wouldn’t have been connected with services early on,” Oster said. “It’s great that we get to see kids grow and develop into young adults who are out in the community.”

Another story was shared by Bethany Clark who has a son enrolled in preschool at Hopewell School. She knew early on that something wasn’t quite right with her son and was ecstatic when Hopewell helped her connect with the right people to diagnose the issue.

“At 2 ½ we got an IEP that said he was behavior delayed,” Clark said. “I was thrilled that someone recognized the issue and that we needed help. For three years I was in survival mode. I felt isolated, I lost friends, I cried, but my survival story is now a success story. Hopewell reassured me that I didn’t cause this and I had a special calling to be his mom and I could do this. They showed me compassion and acceptance. I’m beginning to believe and feel confident that I can parent him.”

Lunch attendees also heard from Kaylea Jones who has benefited from Coshocton DD’s programs for adults. The 23-year-old is involved with the Hopewell Indians bowling and basketball teams, has an aid that helps her with tasks such as shopping and cooking, receives assistance with transportation, is involved with self advocacy groups and just recently got her own apartment.

“I thank Hopewell for all its support the past five years,” Jones said.

After her speech the Coshocton County Commissioners presented a proclamation declaring March Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month in Coshocton County and offering their full support of efforts that assist people with developmental disabilities to make choices that enable them to live successful lives and realize their potential. Jones and Coshocton DD client Michael Ashcraft helped accept that proclamation and then several awards were presented.

The volunteer of the year award went to Sarah Brady who volunteers at Hopewell Industries through RSVP. Her nominator said she is amazing and treats clients with a level of acceptance that they may never experience anywhere else.

“Thank you,” Brady said after receiving her award. “I never expected this. I just want to give all I can to the community.”

The youth advocate award was presented to 7-year-old Halle Wright. She attended preschool at Hopewell and developed a friendship with a classmate who is missing part of her right arm. That friendship continued on to dance class and even now though they are in separate public schools. Wright also goes out of her way to be helpful to students at her current school who have disabilities and shows them kindness and compassion.

The support professional recognized with a special award was Dewey Turbeville who was described in his nomination as going above and beyond his assigned duties.

“I’m surprised by this,” he said. “It’s just my nature to help and what I want to do.”

The partner of the year honor went to Thompkins Child and Adolescent Inc. and was accepted by Dan Carpenetti, executive director and Chris Gallagher, chief clinical officer.

“They share our vision and have partnered with us to help us understand, treat and support individuals,” Oster said.

Both organizations’ staffs have gone through training together and Oster feels a well tuned relationship has developed.

“Thank you for this award,” Gallagher said. “Our staff has learned so much from yours and we appreciate the relationship.”

The distinguished service award then went to Dave McCarty who works at Hopewell School. Oster said he assists a student who is always on the go and has recently gotten him to sit down to do work.

Like all the award winners, McCarty was surprised and honored by his recognition.

“It’s just so easy to work with this group of people,” he said.

The final award for individual achievement was given to Michael Ashcraft who works at Baker’s IGA.

Oster read from his nominations that customers are said to love him and older ladies have been known to bring him Christmas gifts.

The luncheon was closed with one final remark from Oster.

“Thank you all for your support,” he said. “We are proud to be in Coshocton County and hope we are making an impact.”

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About the Author ()

I started my journalism career in 2002 with a daily newspaper chain. After various stops with them, I am happy to be back home! I graduated from Coshocton High School in 1998 and received a Bachelor of Arts in Communication in 2002 from Walsh University. I also earned several awards while working for daily papers, including being honored by Coshocton County’s veterans for the stories I wrote about them. I am honored and ready to once again shine a positive light on Coshocton County. I also am the proud mother of a little girl named Sophia!

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