Events planned for DD awareness

Published 10:12 am Monday, February 13, 2017

March is Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month. That means that the Lawrence County Board of Developmental Disabilities is gearing up for a variety of events in the near future, including their popular Chili Fest and Craft Show on March 25. The event will be at Dawson-Bryant High School, and the board is currently accepting registrations for both the chili cook-off and craft booth slots.

“The chili cook-off is the big one,” said Board of DD Personnel Director Tim Nunnery. “We’ve been doing it for 18 years, so it’s kind of become a little bit of a staple. Everybody likes doing it. We usually get phone calls before we can even send out the invitation.”

But it isn’t just about chili and crafts.

Email newsletter signup

“It’s an opportunity for members of our community to actually get involved with our individuals that are living with developmental disabilities. They can interact and do things together. Not necessarily just ‘Hi. Hello. How are you?’ They’re actually cooking chili side-by-side with each other, and kind of competing a little bit with that.”

The Developmental Disabilities Board is also organizing events around Dr. Seuss day throughout the day on March 2, hosting a March Madness Basketball tournament on March 21, and kicking the whole thing off on March 1 with a balloon launch at Open Door School at 10 a.m. The basketball event will feature games between students of Open Door School, Lawrence County residents with developmental disabilities, and members of the media.

“That’s a good thing, for our clients to actually get out and participate in a basketball game. They’ll play Open Door School. They’ll play members of The Tribune, as well as any other participants that want to participate in that. That way they get to have a little bit of fun in our community. It’s good to watch the game, as well as to participate, to show that they can do many of the things that all of us can do.”

In addition to showing that individuals with developmental disabilities can still be active members of a community, doing the same things everyone else does, Nunnery said they have a new program this year where they try to make middle school students aware of the obstacles those living with disabilities have to endure every day.

“This year I’m going around to several of the middle schools and doing a presentation. It’s an interactive presentation. We call it the ‘What’s it like?’ presentation,” Nunnery said. “What I’m going to do, you’ll see is, I have a wheelchair and a whole duffle bag of things.”

They go over a variety of disorders with the kids, he explained, from autism to communication disorders to muscular control issues. Then they use the items in the bag to emulate what it might be like to live with that condition day in and day out.

For example, to emulate the problems individuals without fine motor control issues, like those with cerebral palsy, might experience, they might require students to complete a series of tasks while wearing oven mitts.

Other experiments replicate the frustration of knowing what you want to say, but not being able to articulate it. These events help foster a sense of empathy, but Nunnery also helps they foster respect for the obstacles that developmentally disabled individuals have to overcome every single day.

“It gives the person participating a sense of what it’s like, to have to do that,” Nunnery said. “A small, five minute little demonstration. But you’ve got to keep in mind that many of our individuals, they don’t do that for five minutes at a time.  So that’s a good thing, to get our community members to see what it is actually like to be living with a developmental disability.”

The group will also be collecting for food drives and holding eyeglasses collections at all of their events throughout both March and April.

For more information or to register for any of the events, contact the Board of Developmental Disabilities at 740-532-7401.