DD Awareness Day, Samantha

Developmental Disabilities Awareness Day

Each year in March, National Disability Awareness month is celebrated. This year’s theme is “Side by Side”. This theme was continued at the Developmental Disabilities Awareness Day, where they also added, “Hand in Hand” and “Heart to Heart”. People with and without disabilities working, going to school, playing and participating in their communities together.

On March 8, hundreds of advocates people gathered at the Ohio Statehouse in Columbus to advocate policy issues that impact the lives of people with developmental disabilities. Attendees met with policymakers to educate them about how state government services and policies can be improved, expanded or strengthened.

Our LEND trainees traveled to Columbus to attend this event and put the knowledge they’ve been learning into action. Here’s what they had to say about the event.

Samantha: I was inspired by the impact that attendees had on our legislators and made acutely aware of how much our personal experience influences our breadth of knowledge and opinions. I saw firsthand how someone sharing a personal story can open up another person’s eyes and allow them to see things from another perspective.

I experienced proof that people actually meet with legislators outside of a day like this. When meeting with Representative Andrew Brenner, he addressed two other women as if they were old friends. I later learned that these women and other advocates meet with Brenner quite often to discuss policy changes. At the end of the meeting, Mr. Brenner asked that we report back to him with additional information and gave specific, actionable steps which told me that he is truly on our side and part of the team.