‘What’s your story?’ campaign starts important conversation

March is Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month

Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month.

BOARDMAN, Ohio (WKBN) – March is Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month, and the Mahoning County Board of Development Disabilities (MCBDD) is encouraging the community to get to know an individual with a disability.

The slogan for the campaign is “What’s Your Story.” It’s designed for people to start a conversation with a person with a developmental disability and learn about an individual’s unique abilities.

Take Michael Timmerman, for example. He bags up parts for Boardman Molded. There is a rhythm to his work and he does well. Timmerman is one of 168 men and women on the production floor at Meshel M.A.S.C.O., a company that does packaging and assembly for local businesses.

Workers at Meshel M.A.S.C.O. have developmental disabilities. The work there allows clients to develop skills and make a paycheck. MCBDD Superintendent Bill Whitacre said the jobs do more to highlight the worker’s ability rather than disability. And this is just one example of how people with disabilities are impacting daily life in the Valley.

The goal of Developmental Disabilities Month is to encourage a conversation with those with a disability to find out what they do, what they know, and how they feel. It can start with a simple question like, “Where do you go to church or work?” The point is to get the conversation started.

When asked, Timmerman explained what he likes most about his job. He said it’s isn’t the pay, it’s helping others.

“Since I was little, I had a hard time communicating and stuff, and I just want to be someone that (you can) actually trust – have a friend to trust me,” Timmerman said.

The Mahoning County Board of Developmental Disabilities serves around 1,400 clients.

The Purple Cat also works with people with disabilities. In 2014 it started Gallagher’s Lunch Bucket at Oak Hill where man and women with disabilities cook and serve food in the cafeteria with assistance from job coaches.

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