Recognizing Intellectual Disabilities Month

2017 ID Month

Delaware County Council recognized people with intellectual disabilities who are self-advocates and work in the community as part of Intellectual Disability Awareness Month. Shown at the March 8 meeting are members of the Delaware County Office of Human Services Office of Intellectual Disabilities from right, front row, Jonna DiStefano, Sallie Norsworthy, Dr. Susan Proulx, Councilman Dave White, Jean Moran, Rebecca McElwee, Dionne Winstead, Molly Doyle, Sandra Serrano, Hazel Johnson, Lyndell Evans, Rebecca Johnson, Callie Evans, Juliet Campbell, Marsha Komara, Nancy Lowry, Councilman Michael Culp, Vice Chair Morrone, Chairman Mario Civera, Councilman McBlain, Director of Human Services Joe Dougherty, and Sandra Tate

ID Month

Delaware County Council recognized people with intellectual disabilities who are self-advocates and work in the community as part of Intellectual Disability Awareness Month. Shown at the March 8 meeting are, from left, Arc staff Karissa Desiderio, Eileen MacDonald, Director, Erin Perry, Councilman Dave White, Jake Spencer, Nicole Simon, Dolores Kent, Tim Cody, top row, Arc staff Candice DiLorenzo, Arc board president Colleen Shepherd, Councilman Michael Culp, Council Vice Chairman Colleen Morrone, Council Chairman Mario Civera, Councilman John McBlain, and Nancy LeClair

Self-advocates join County Council to recognize

Intellectual Disability Awareness Month

It was a packed room for the Delaware County Council meeting on Wednesday as various organizations attended along with self-advocates, to help County Council recognize March as Intellectual Disability Awareness Month.

“Every March, Delaware County Council recognizes the contributions of people with intellectual disabilities. These individuals are valued co-workers, family members and friends in our Delaware County community,” said County Councilman Dave White, who is the parent of a son with a disability.

Since this observance was started by President Ronald Reagan 30 years ago, much progress has been made. People with intellectual disabilities are not only included in our public schools, they are now attending college programs. Individuals are now employed in a broader segment of the workforce. And individuals are finding creative ways to live on their own, or with supports, in affordable housing.

On Friday, March 3, a group of workers from Elwyn’s Occupational Training Center received an exclusive tour of the Delaware County Emergency Services Center. There they learned about the county’s emergency services, how to call 911, what to do if lost, and how to report a crime.

“As you can see from the attendance at today’s meeting, we have a very diverse, active community of people with intellectual disabilities, their friends, families, employers and advocates here in Delaware County,” said Councilman White.

At the meeting, Council recognized the Delaware County Office of Intellectual Disabilities with a resolution. As an organization that works to increase the numbers of individuals employed in their communities, the Office of Intellectual Disabilities also helps individuals lead full lives and works to enable them to meet their personal goals and dreams throughout the lifespan. The Office of Intellectual Disabilities serves over 2,300 individuals and their families each year through administrative and supports coordination services.

Council also recognized the Delaware County Employment Forum, a collaborative group who partners have been working for four years to increase the numbers of individuals who are employed, both full and part time.  This past year, due to efforts by the forum, employment providers, and the Delaware County Supports Coordination Organization, 236 individuals with intellectual disabilities in Delaware County were employed. 

At the meeting, a resolution was also presented to the Arc of Delaware County, a grass roots organization that has advocated for people with disabilities for over 50 years.

“This organization was started by a group of brave parents when children with disabilities were not allowed to attend school or participate in community programs. These parents led the charge to include people of all abilities to belong, to live with their families, to get an education, to be safe, and to be included in our lives to the fullest extent possible,” said Councilman White.

As an advocacy agency, the Arc has worked with county, state and federal officials to help individuals and their families. One of the most pressing challenges for people with intellectual disabilities is isolation, or difficulty in building friendships beyond their immediate families.

In 2016, the Delaware County Office of Intellectual Disabilities, in partnership with the three other Southeastern Pennsylvania counties, applied for and received a three-year grant to create a Regional Collaborative to focus on creating a Community of Practice in Delaware County and the Southeast Region. Eileen MacDonald, Executive Director of The ARC of Delaware County, is the co-lead for the Delaware County project along with Susan Proulx, Deputy Administrator for the Office of Intellectual Disabilities. 

“Through a partnership between these organizations, we will be working together to support our families to help their loved ones with disabilities so they can live rich, full lives in their communities,” said Councilman White.