By Kodey Toney
I took trip to the “big city” on Friday for my first meeting with the Developmental Disabilities Council. I saw some old friends and made some new ones that I think are going to beneficial in the near future. However, when I learned about what the council has done in the past I wanted to share this information, because I knew about some of these programs, but didn’t realize that the DD Council actually helped start them. Many are very beneficial to the people of our area.
The council is a Title I program set up through the governor’s office to help individuals with developmental disabilities; obviously right? However, what falls under that includes the protection and advocacy systems in the state to guard the legal and human rights of individuals with disabilities. They also help set up set up university centers for excellence in developmental disabilities education, research, and services to help provide continuing education and community services, and to conduct research and spread the information. They also collect data necessary to help improve lives of individuals with disabilities, and provide technical assistance.
One of the programs started by the council is Project Peak. This is a training and support network to help educate children on the autism spectrum. They work with the local and state agencies as well as the schools to help provide training for children in the school environment.
Oklahoma Assistive Technology Center was a program started to help families and school find the technology they need to help make a better life for those with disabilities. They would provide devices on loan and help with training to learn to use those devices to make sure it was necessary for that individual. This has shifted in the recent past, but Oklahoma ABLE Tech has taken on a similar role and is available to help with technology needs.
Dreamnight at the Zoo is sponsored by the ODDC every June. The first Friday of the month the zoo provides access to families of children with disabilities. The council funded disability awareness training for the zoo employees which is now part of new employee orientation. The zoo also works with zoos from across the country to help with access for those with disabilities.
Youth Leadership Forum is a week-long program on a college campus that helps high school juniors and senior prepare for post-secondary education, independent living, and career development. They are also taught self-advocacy and leadership skills.
Partners in Policymaking is the great program that I graduated from in 2013. This is a nine-week program designed to help self-advocates, family members, educators, and professionals better advocate for themselves and others. There are so many aspects to this one that I couldn’t possibly list them all, but they will make you feel like you can take over the world when you are finished.
Oklahoma Sibshops were also developed under the ODDC. While the program itself was developed in Washington state, the programs were nurtured by the council to spread throughout the state. This includes the one the Pervasive Parenting Center began last year. We will start back up in September to help provide families with assistance for siblings of children with disabilities.
These are only a few of the things that have the council planted the seed for. Also under their supervision was the Governor’s Conference on Developmental Disabilities, Sooner Success, and Keeping Families together.
I am truly honored to be a part of this great council, and to use it as another avenue to help others.