Hundreds of individuals with developmental disabilities (DD), their loved ones, advocates and direct support providers visited with state legislative leaders about the importance of “Reaching for a Good Life” goals on Wednesday, March 25 during “Developmental Disability Awareness Day at the Capitol.”
Oklahoma state Reps. Pat Ownbey, R-Ardmore, Terry O’Donnell, R-Catoosa, Scott Inman, D-Del City, Scott Martin, R-Norman, Earl Sears, R-Bartlesville, as well as state Senate President Pro Temp Brian Bingman, R-Sapulpa, Senator AJ Griffin, R-Guthrie, and others welcomed the large crowd to the “People’s House,” while various leaders for the Developmentally Disabled (DD) encouraged attendees to talk to their legislators about ways to ensure that people with DD live a good and fulfilling life.
Additional speakers included Kenneth Nutt, a self-advocate from Duncan; JoAnne Goin, director of Developmental Disabilities Services for the Oklahoma Department of Human Services (DHS); Judy Goodwin, executive director of Oklahoma Community-Based Providers; Wayne Eubanks, a self-advocate from Ardmore; Jim Nicholson, chair of the Governor’s Blue Ribbon Panel on Developmental Disabilities; Wanda Felty, a parent of a daughter with DD and coordinator of the DDS Waiting List Meeting; Tomas Davis, a self-advocate with Oklahoma People First; Brian Smith, a self-advocate with the Oklahoma Self-Advocacy Network and Robin Arter, a sibling, parent and executive director of Ability First in Duncan.
Gov. Mary Fallin proclaimed March as “Developmental Disability Awareness Month in Oklahoma.” In the proclamation, Governor Fallin emphasizes; disability is a natural part of the human experience that does not diminish the right of individuals with developmental disabilities to live independently, to exert control and choice over their own lives, to fully participate in all aspects of society, and, as all Oklahomans, reach for the highest quality of life.
“Our communities are stronger when everyone is welcomed and included. This day is a time to celebrate and recognize individuals with developmental disabilities, their families, friends, and community members as we encourage all Oklahomans to focus on the abilities of all people.”
Goin said there are approximately 60,000 Oklahomans with developmental and intellectual disabilities in Oklahoma and it is important their voices be heard.
“Developmental Disability Awareness Day is an important opportunity for us to join with advocates, families and our statewide partners to champion the full inclusion of all people with disabilities in community life,” Goin said. “Today’s large turnout for this event is testament to the strength in Oklahoman’s” shared vision of a good life in each community across the state for people with disabilities and their families.”