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March Proclaimed Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month in Livingston, Wyoming Counties
All eyes were on Ian Coyle Thursday, March 14th at Hilltop Industries' production facility in Mount Morris, as the County Administrator delivered an official proclamation that marks March 2013 as Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month in Livingston County.
It was the first of two such presentations within the two-county service area of The Arc of Livingston-Wyoming, a 501(c)(3) private, not-for-profit agency dedicated to individuals with intellectual and other developmental disabilities. At its Tuesday, March 12th meeting, the Wyoming County Board of Supervisors accepted a similar proclamation by unanimous vote.
"The Livingston County Board of Supervisors ... urges the citizens of Livingston County to give full support to efforts towards enabling people with developmental disabilities to live full and productive lives of inclusion in our communities," Mr. Coyle said, to a roar of applause throughout Hilltop's shop floor.
Hilltop Industries is the business services branch of The Arc. The Hilltop program meets the needs of about 350 people with disabilities annually through day habilitation and work programs, including community employment and work centers. Workers at the Mount Morris facility carry out a variety of jobs, including packaging, assembly, and operation of a full service print shop.
Joining Hilltop participants for the reading of the proclamation were direct-support staff from The Arc and members of the Livingston County Chamber of Commerce's Leadership Livingston program, who toured the workshop as part of their monthly session.
Wyoming County's proclamation, signed by Board of Supervisors Chairman A. D. Berwanger, reads in part, "Every person, regardless of their abilities, has valuable strengths, infinite capacity to learn, and can be productive, contributing members of their communities. Celebrating the abilities and contributions of people with developmental disabilities can only serve to enrich the communities of Wyoming County."
Bringing the proclamation's words to life was Special Olympian Barney Pedraza, a Warsaw native who works at Finders Keepers, The Arc's thrift store in Mount Morris. The Board of Supervisors honored Mr. Pedraza with a Certificate of Recognition for earning a Bronze Medal in Alpine Skiing for Team USA at the recent Special Olympics World Games in South Korea. Mr. Pedraza's mother, Beverly, was present for her son's recognition.
Also representing The Arc at the Board of Supervisors were Arc Board Members Eric Parker and Marcy VanZandt and Public Relations Director Jeff Thomas,
Communities nationwide recognize March as Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month to draw attention to the needs and potential of people with developmental disabilities. The observance has been recognized nationally since 1987, when then-President Ronald Reagan called for the American people to build understanding and encouragement, and to provide new opportunities for people who have developmental disabilities.