Special to 1812Blockhouse

On Thursday, the Richland County Commissioners signed a proclamation declaring March as Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month.

Several representatives from Richland Newhope/Richland County Board of Developmental Disabilities and RNI, Inc. were in attendance for the proclamation, which took place before the Commissioner’s regular Thursday meeting. Richland Newhope values and truly appreciates the on-going support received from the Richland County Commissioners.

Statewide and across the nation, organizations devoted to serving individuals with developmental disabilities are holding special events to raise public awareness of the many abilities people have, regardless of their disability.

“In issuing the proclamation, the Commissioners recognized the more than 1,500 individuals served by Richland Newhope and encouraged each and every resident of Richland County to value and respect the abilities of all people,” said Commissioner Mears. “It is the Commissioners’ hope that this proclamation will increase awareness through openness to learn and acknowledge each individual’s contribution to the community and to foster and support full access to education, housing, employment, and recreational activities. The Richland County Board of Commissioners has a long history of supporting developmental disabilities awareness, and again offered their full support in assisting people with disabilities to lead fulfilling and successful lives, and to realize their full potential.”

“Essential Employees” was the theme for this year’s proclamation. Essential workers in attendance were Kim T. (Arbors of Mifflin), Mason E. (OhioHealth), and Maggie S. (Winchester Nursing Home.) Since the pandemic began, several individuals supported by Newhope have continued to work as identified essential workers.

Kim T. is a dietary aide at Arbors at Mifflin. Arbors at Mifflin is long-term skilled nursing care and short-term rehab facility. When Kim was asked about her job and what it means to be essential, she told the Commissioners, “As a healthcare employee, I have been essential through COVID-19. I am a determined person and know that I have to step up daily to help serve the most vulnerable population. I do not have the option of self-quarantine or taking sick days. I go to work every day, even during this pandemic, and I have worked confidently to make sure the residents have been cared for. I am proud to be an essential employee, and I will continue to strive to put others before me.”

“Richland Newhope is committed to supporting people with disabilities to be valued members of the community,” said Richland Newhope, Manager of Community Education Troy Smith. “We believe that all people with disabilities should be treated as equals and be empowered to speak up for what they want by serving as leaders and working together as a team with all members of the community.”

For Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month, Newhope has included displays at the main branch of the Mansfield-Richland County Public Library and the Richland Mall. There are several billboards around Richland County thanking essential employees and radio commercials celebrating DD Awareness Month. Due to the pandemic, many of the annual awareness events had to be cancelled again this year.

Photo: Richland Newhope

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