In an effort spearheaded by Cincinnati Councilman Kevin Flynn and Mayor John Cranley, we had been working for the past year and a half with the City on employment inclusion and hiring of more people with disabilities; and building accessibility/ADA compliance and design in Cincinnati. On May 16, 2017 citizens, business and community leaders joined us in Cincinnati City Hall to support and give testimony before Cincinnati City Council members Chris Seelbach, P.G. Sittenfeld and Kevin Flynn in support of resolutions to strengthen the City’s livability for everyone.
And the votes were YES!
This is what was voted on.
YES – to expanding the CABA (Cincinnati Accessibility Board of Advisors – a board appointed by the City) to expand economic accessibility. YES – to sending a request to City Council to develop more concrete solutions for expanding the workforce to include people with disabilities and strengthening accessibility in new and refurbished buildings in our neighborhoods.
On Tuesday, May 16th at City Hall, 801 Plum Street at 2 pm, the Cincinnati Education and Entrepreneurship Committee will be debating the city’s commitment to disability in their hiring practices, and accessibility of new and renovated buildings.
We are asking the city to implement inclusive hiring practices, and do a better job ensuring ALL of our new and renovated buildings are accessible.
You can be a part of history in Cincinnati- making our city more inclusive and welcoming to all- all you have to do is show up and show that you care. In an election year, let’s make it clear to our elected officials that THESE ISSUES MATTER.
Also consider giving a two minute testimony on the following:
1) Your experience being employed or hiring people with disabilities. We want the city to lead on economic inclusion for all—this means catching up with the hiring practices of others in our community. Many are already pursuing 7% hiring goals and monitoring progress.
2) Disability should have the same rights as other minorities. An aspirational goal of 1% of city contracts going to disability businesses is simply on par with what other groups get.
3) Building access for ALL matters. When buildings get renovated with city dollars shouldn’t that mean everyone can access the building?
We have been working hard for the last year and a half to get the City of Cincinnati to lead on employment inclusion/hire more people with disabilities and building access/ADA compliance and design. Councilman Flynn and Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley have been spearheading the effort. Next week a report on disability employment inclusion and building access will be presented before City Council. This report will be the precursor to hiring goals and building access standards for all. HOWEVER, the report, although close to what we want, IS NOT exactly what we want. (For a copy of this report, please email email@example.com).
Following Tuesday’s debate, Councilman Flynn will then propose to send the report back for updates. Once the report is done a resolution can be drafted that will include hiring goals for city employees and access standards for buildings!
Four main things that make people happy: helping other people appreciating the lives we have authenticity and self acceptance in recognizing who we really are love and connection through personal, engaged relationships
At LADD, one of our strategic goals is to raise the bar, empowering people who have disabilities to have more meaningful relationships and more engaged lives…and that begins with conversation and expression. One way we are doing that is through fun, interactive and inclusive classes where our staff and adults who we spend our days working beside participate together.
Twenty employees of LADD and 20 people living in one of five of our residential programs attended the first afternoon workshop on happiness and engagement. After a presentation with Q&A on living life to its fullest, there were several activities designed for strengthening communication skills, practicing being mindful of being positive, and getting to know one another.
In Happiness Speed Dating, everyone spent two minutes learning about someone with whom they may or may not have already known…before switching to learn about someone else. In another game, everyone was given five random cards with an activity described on each one. If one of those activities was not something that made that person happy, they could swap cards with other people. And, in the end, have a handful of thoughts for what they may want to pursue to lead to greater fulfillment.
“We got such positive feedback from those who came that we can’t wait to hold more of these, and other types of workshops,” said DJ Gatwood, LADD director of community inclusion programs.
3CDC has joined our growing list of employers who are seeing the benefits of hiring someone who has a disability through our Supported Employment Program. Steve Leeper, president & CEO of 3CDC, told us some of the reasons he values Troy are because, “Troy is timely, reliable, a people person and a team player. He takes pride in making sure that our office is neat, clean and presentable to the public.” Troy told us he enjoys working at 3CDC because, “I like to be included and I like to save my money to buy things.”
Please learn more about our Supported Employment Program, how your company can benefit from hiring someone with a disability here or by calling Diane at 513-861-5233.
Our 2017 Cincinnati ReelAbilities Film Festival featured more than 60 films that showcased the art, lives and stories of diverse people who have disabilities. One example, Stray Dog, was following a Veterans Brunch tribute.
Gregory Nelson, a junior at Wright State University majoring in liberal arts, was one of our attendees and wrote this review of the film.
Today on March 11, I saw the movie “Stray Dog” at the Duke Energy Center in downtown Cincinnati. The film is about a Vietnam War veteran (Ron), who goes by the name “Stray Dog”. Stray Dog was produced in a manner where he never spoke to the camera, and neither did anyone else. The camera crew strictly filmed Stray Dog and his interactions with people, in other words, was no acting in this movie. My opinions and thoughts on the movie will be found in the following paragraphs.
The film takes place in 2014 at Ron’s trailer in Missouri. The movie centers on Ron and his wife, and the people that are close to them. This documentary shows how Ron is no ordinary war veteran. Ron is juggling many responsibilities. Some of these responsibilities include paying tribute to those that had lost their lives in all wars fought for the United States, helping those who struggle with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, give advice to his granddaughters, help his wife reunite with her sons, and run a trailer park. There is a scene where Ron describes himself as not a good person, mainly due to his actions during the Vietnam War that he is ashamed of. He refuses to forgive himself, for he believes that if he does, he is dishonoring his fellow soldiers. Today, Ron gives back to the community in numerous ways. One small example would be how he gave one of the trailer park members a break on his rent. Overall, this documentary shows Ron giving back to the community, even though he has no obligation to do so.
Ron is someone who chooses to live with just the bare necessities. He does not want the finer qualities in life, as he feels that freedom is the greatest quality of life there is. Another aspect of Ron would be how he is acting like a father figure to his wife’s sons who had just moved to Missouri from Mexico, and a father figure to his daughter who is trying to raise her two children. Ron states many times, that without his wife, he would not be able to do what he does on a regular basis because she supports him in every aspect of his life. There are a few examples of when she goes to see her sons in Mexico, and Ron struggles to do basic tasks at home without her.
Ron taking the initiative on his own to go help others, and change who he is as a person, is one aspect I really enjoyed about this documentary. His wife offers to get a job to help pay for her sons living in the trailer park with them. He turns down that offer, stating that having her at home is move important to him and that he can handle the finances on his own. The movie had a ton of different emotional aspects, which kept me entertained throughout. I can say that I have no complaints about this film.
I learned from this movie to have compassion for all veterans, regardless of how you feel about a certain war. When it comes down to it, they are human beings who have challenges like the rest of us.
I would recommend this movie to veterans and active military members. With that being said anyone could benefit from watching this movie. This movie is rated PG-13.
I would give this movie a 9.5 of out 10.
More about Gregory Nelson: Gregory is a junior at Wright State University in Dayton Ohio. He is majoring in liberal arts. His major hobby is anything sports related. He is a big fan of many Ohio teams including his hometown Cincinnati Bengals and Reds as well as the Cleveland Cavaliers and FC Cincinnati. He is big OSU fan. Gregory has Cerebral Palsy, a neurological disorder that prevents him from doing the simple things many people take for granted. Despite having very little physical control over his body, with assistance, Gregory has managed to go to school like his siblings and graduated from high school with honors. He was the sports reporter for his middle school and today has a Facebook page where he comments and shares news and facts on many Ohio sports teams.
We are so proud to have been part of Connect|Ability Week, a career shadowing experience for students with disabilities sponsored by the Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber in partnership with Opportunities for Ohioans with Disabilities, LADD, University of Cincinnati, Miami University, Hamilton Co. DDS and Butler Co. Board of DD, the program promoted employment of people with disabilities. Our Susan Brownknight is chairing the Chamber’s Advisory Committee of its national pilot program to further disability inclusion in small businesses and this was part of that. Students with disabilities were matched with local employers to explore careers, receive career advice, and learn more about the employability skills needed for future jobs. Thank you to everyone who participated and made this a successful week of learning for both potential future employees and employers.
A student at Cincinnati State Technical and Community College studying software technology engineering, Seth Leonard spent an afternoon at the corporate headquarters of Kroger. (He is pictured on the right, sitting next to Kroger employee Charles Sanders.) “I like the fun and professional atmosphere at Kroger,” Seth told us.
LADD’s Jenny Crowe spent an afternoon at School Outfitters, which offers quality, fairly priced products to help educators create a comfortable learning environment. Kristin Guerrini, School Outfitters human resources generalist (pictured with Jenny), told us, “We work with Ohioans with Disabilities as a company partnership and a recruiting resource to hire qualified candidates with Disabilities. We were asked to help pilot ConnectAbility. ConnectAbility is a career shadowing experience for students with disabilities. Sponsored by the Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber in partnership with Opportunities for Ohioans with Disabilities, LADD, University of Cincinnati, Miami University, Hamilton Co. DDS and Butler Co. Board of DD, the program is designed to promote employment of people with disabilities. We were excited and welcomed the opportunity to be involved. As an employer, we wanted to provide this great experience to students and also wanted to learn how we could improve our various jobs for people with disabilities. “
We know that saving money is very important to an individual’s long term ability to live independently. We also know that federal law says that people with disabilities are VERY restricted in terms of how much they can earn and save without losing critical benefits such as Social Security and Medicaid. (A person cannot have more than $2000 in a bank account before jeopardizing critical services like access health care.)
The All New STABLE Account Is Life Changers For Individuals With Disabilities And Their Families A STABLE Account is an investment account available to eligible individuals with disabilities. STABLE Accounts are made possible by the federal Achieving a Better Life Experience (“ABLE”) Act. STABLE Accounts allow individuals with disabilities to save and invest money without losing eligibility for certain public benefits programs, like Medicaid, SSI, or SSDI. Earnings in your STABLE Account are not subject to federal income tax, so long as you spend them on “Qualified Disability Expenses” and up to $14,000 can be contributed into it annually.
With thanks to advocate Chip Gerhardt, president of downtown-based Government Strategies Group, former chairman of the National Down Syndrome Society, and father to Anne – Ohio and the country’s very first STABLE Account holder, Ohio became the first state to pass the federal Achieving a Better Life Experience Act, known as the ABLE Act in June 2016. After ten years of Chip’s lobbying Congress, the law has amended Section 529 of the IRS Code, allowing for these tax-free savings accounts for those who have disabilities. Since then, more than 1000 accounts have been opened in three states (Florida, Tennessee, and Nebraska) and 15 more states are expected to go live by the end of 2016.
If you are someone with a disability, or you have a family member with a disability, we urge you to please join Chip, ourselves, and our partner agencies to learn about STABLE Accounts, the benefits, and the registration process at our upcoming event. It is FREE; however, we ask that you please pre-register here.
STABLE ACCOUNTS 101
A Pathway To Financial Security For People With Disabilities
featuring Chip Gerhardt, president of Government Strategies Group, LLC who spearheaded the passage of the ABLE Act
WHEN: Wednesday, November 2, 2016 from 7 pm to 8:30 pm WHERE: Fifth Third Bank; 5050 Kinglsey Dr; Cincinnati, Ohio 45227 COST: FREE PARKING: Directly in front of building in visitor spots
REGISTRATION: Click here
PRE-REGISTRATION IS REQUIRED AND SPACE IS LIMITED.
Please meet Wylie Jones, LADD’s director of quality assurance and programs, and learn more about his passion for his work.
LADD: Please, share with us what your job involves.
Wylie: My role is basically to support our program staff in making sure that they have what they need to provide great services, ensure that the folks they are supporting have the best possible opportunities to achieve what they want for their lives, and to encourage our LADD team and others in the field to pursue excellence in what they do.
LADD: Please tell us your own personal impression of LADD and our work.
Wylie: LADD is a unique place. I come from an academic background and have always thought of LADD as the Harvard of provider agencies. A big reason for that is our emphasis on education based programming, but it extends to the quality of the agency’s leadership, our reputation in the field, and the excellent and well trained people we have engaged directly with folks to help them learn, explore, and develop.
LADD: How have you personally been impacted from working at LADD?
Wylie: I started at LADD over 18 years ago as a direct support professional in one of our houses. I often describe my career at LADD as a very fortunate accident. Fortunate in that LADD has given me the opportunity to develop new skills and test myself in new ways for all of those years and to build relationships with the people associated with LADD that are very important to me and have given direction to my life. An ‘accident’ in that I would have to honestly say I knew very little about what the work was going to involve when I first started other than it had to do with working with people and teaching. It turns out that it’s a great field where one can really have a huge impact for the good and LADD definitely equips you to do that.
We asked Jeremy what he likes about participating in our Community Connections program. This is what he told us. And to Jeremy…we like to have fun too! Even better when you are having fun with us!
If you are unfamiliar, our Community Connections is the only non-facilities based program of its kind in Cincinnati. In groups of 3 to 5 adults, they choose places in our area to explore with one of our social guides. Those outings may include volunteer work or recreational activities. The program reduces isolation and also provides an opportunity for participants to learn and strengthen life and communication skills, build confidence through decision making, and explore their own likes and dislikes.
There is a proverb that reminds us, “The only difference between stumbling blocks and stepping stones is the way we use them.”
At LADD, we see obstacles and challenges as opportunities to learn, and strengthen our resilience. We teach, support and encourage individuals to grow wings, and live the kind of independence that gives their lives meaning. As can happen to any one of us, life sometimes throws us curve balls. It is that journey that gives us resolve and brings people together.
Vince and his roommate Mike reminded us of this lesson.
Since becoming roommates seven years ago (and eight years prior for Vince), LADD’s Community Supported Living team have been available to assist them whether that be providing transportation when needed to get to appointments or work, or ensuring their medicine is measured.
They are a pretty busy pair. Mike manages his time between two jobs, one at the Blue Ash YMCA and the other at Christian Moerlein restaurant downtown; and Vince has been employed by Whole Foods for over 12 years. They make a pretty good team. According to Vince, “I memorize Mike’s appointments and schedule, do the bathroom, and I am the dish master. I like to tease him a little bit too.”
On June 28, 2016, ‘community’ in every sense of the word was seen through a new lens. It was around 4:00 am when Mike awoke and smelled smoke in their Oakley apartment. An explosion had occurred in their building. He rushed to awaken Vince and the two went outside on their patio. One of their neighbors pulled them to safety, a man who heroically risked his life (as did his wife) to not only save Vince and Mike, but others in the building as well.
LADD’s Eric Sunderman, our community supporting living coordinator, got a call shortly after. Since then, Eric and other staff spent much of the next few weeks finding a new apartment and new furniture, and moving what furniture could be salvaged. The two roommates moved into their new place in August, without interruption to their work and busy lives. Vince sat down with Eric recently to talk with a visitor. Their banter back and forth made it clear theirs was much more than a working relationship. Resting an arm on his friend’s shoulder, Vince added, “Eric’s the man.”
It was at LADD’s Taking Flight Awards where Vince got to see the man who saved his life for the first time since the explosion.
“Thank you,” Vince said. Two words that say it all.