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Building Awareness for Adults with Developmental Disabilities and Stepping Up to Help Community Integration

Building Awareness for Adults with Developmental Disabilities and Stepping Up to Help Community Integration Image

by Jan Brown, President of the Lott Board of Directors and Assistant to the Chair at University of Toledo (janbrowncs@yahoo.com) School of Population Health and Branwen Diakonis, Program Director at Lott (bdiakonis@lottserves.org)

Recent estimates show that 15 percent of children (three to 17 years of age) have one or more developmental disabilities. Although many attitudes have changed over the last sixty years, some people still see the disability before they see the person. Today, most of us recognize that a person with a disability is a person first and should have the same kinds of opportunities as any other individual.

But, there is still work to do.

This summer, Lott has renewed its commitment to people with developmental disabilities with a strategic approach and additional programming such as community-based employment, a wellness program, social, educational, and community integration activities. These programs will fully engage individuals with barriers to employment within the community in the most integrated settings possible.

Changes at Lott are part of adapting to, and embracing, new federal Medicaid rules regarding serving individuals with developmental disabilities. The federal government determined that organizations like Lott across the country must assist people with disabilities to lead fully inclusive lives in the community, and reinvent programs that, in some cases, were considered isolating.

Lott has always been ahead of the curve, facilitating many everyday life activities, including social network development, employment, economic security, education, and cultural enrichment. We are excited to continue that journey by empowering people with barriers to employment, transforming businesses, and enhancing our community.

Because of the federal mandate, Lott and the Lucas County Board of Developmental Disabilities (LCBDD) separated after nearly 50 years of close partnership. For Lott, the change brings an exciting opportunity to expand its programs to all people with barriers to employment. We’re eager to take on the challenge of becoming a standalone provider of habilitation services and community employment.

With much change coming from the highest levels of government, Lott recognizes its responsibility to engage the individuals served, their families, and the community about providing dynamic and integrated services for people with developmental disabilities.

Lott is extremely grateful for the community support it has received since 1956 when Mrs. Josina Lott and a group of concerned citizens gained support for the establishment of Lott.

For these 60 years, Lott has been working to eliminate stigmas and provide workforce opportunities and employment services to individuals with developmental disabilities in Lucas County.

Lott has always been a well-established and viable nonprofit tax-exempt 501(c)(3) corporation. Dozens of businesses utilize Lott’s 160,000 square feet of production floor and its dependable, well-trained workforce for labor-intensive assignments such as light assembly, packaging, sorting, document destruction and highway safety products.

Lott has approximately 200 individuals gainfully employed in partnership with area businesses in its production, community locations, and mobile work crews.

We are going to further the conversation about developmental disabilities and help people look beyond stereotypes. Together, we must recognize that all people, regardless of their differences, deserve all opportunities to reach their potential.

When we acknowledge our responsibility to make those opportunities available, the community as a whole can tap into an overlooked, highly-capable, and valuable group of individuals within our community.

Further unlocking this untapped resource will allow hundreds of people throughout Northwest Ohio to be truly independent and active participants in our community.

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