When a community comes together, a powerful voice is heard. “Our Community: Breaking Boundaries” was the theme of the Developmental Disabilities Summit held on February 28th. The Summit, was organized by members of the Developmental Disabilities committee of Sarasota County’s Community Alliance (http://sarasotaalliance.net/ddc.asp), provided a much-needed platform to hear the voices of our community. Those voices included parents, professionals, support coordinators, and service providers.
Over 50 participants attended the Summit and self-selected to participate in one of 3 break-out sessions. The groups were organized by age category, those interested in services for children birth-12, adolescents 13-26, and adults 26 and older. Each of the groups answered the same questions during the break out session:
Who or what are the resources you use in our community?
Developmental disability services in Sarasota would be great if we had…?
How are we going to get there?
While each group created separate, extensive answers to each of questions, eight main themes consistently emerged across the groups.
These themes were:
- Having a “single point of entry” for connecting to community services
- Marketing/public relations campaign to raise awareness of disabilities and of services
- Parental empowerment programs
- For-profit business involvement to increase awareness and to provide employment opportunities
- Fee-for-service options
- Increased financial support
- Social & leisure activities
These are the 8 goals that the committee will focus on over the next few years. We look forward to developing a more collaborative, efficient, and “heard” community. If you are interested in attending the meetings, they are held the second Tuesday of each month at 1:00pm in Health Department building on Ringling Boulevard. The more, the merrier because there truly is power in numbers!
-Dr. Kameron Hodgens, VP of Programs and Services