In 1987, President Ronald Reagan proclaimed the month of March as Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month to “increase public awareness of the needs and potential of Americans with developmental disabilities.”
Its objective is to create awareness about developmental disabilities, teach the importance of access to and inclusion in every aspect of life, and share stories of Individuals with disabilities to demonstrate that those challenges do not preclude a happy, successful life. This year’s theme is “See Me for Me!” – an appeal to look beyond an Individual’s disability and see them as the person they are.
“Developmental Disabilities” is an umbrella term that, according to the American Association of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities refers to an intellectual disability, but includes other disabilities that are typically apparent during childhood. They are severe, chronic disabilities that appear before the age of 22 and are likely to be life-long. Examples include cerebral palsy, epilepsy, Down syndrome, and fetal alcohol syndrome. Intellectual disabilities impose significant limitations on cognitive functioning and adaptive behavior. Intellectual and other developmental disabilities, referred to as “Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities” or “IDD,” often co-occur and may be physical, cognitive or both.
With an emphasis on inclusion in every aspect of life, innovative programs have been developed to integrate IDD-challenged adults into a home setting and the lives of a host family. These Individuals and their host families are matched through agencies with expertise in meeting the needs of these unique Individuals such as Evergreen Service Providers, a nonprofit agency based in Arvada, Colorado.
Evergreen Service Providers’ Executive Director, Barbara Myers, shares that, “We work to ensure dignity, stability and growth for IDD adults. In fact, the name ‘Evergreen’ was chosen because it represents lasting growth. Our mission is to help adults facing developmental disabilities improve their quality of life and achieve their goals by connecting them with the perfect host home setting – one that will promote lasting growth in mind, body, and spirit.”
In addition to working with the Individual, the Evergreen Service Providers staff works closely with involved family members and Community Centered Board staff members to create customized plans designed to enable each IDD adult in their program to reach their maximum potential. Services available to ensure that individual needs are met include:
- 24-hour on-call staff
- A nurse on staff
- Individual service support plans
- Wheelchair and walker-accessible host homes
- Transport to medical appointments and outings
- Access to community enrichment programs
- Special diet accommodations
- Medical administration and monitoring
- Monthly host home monitoring
- Respite care services
Evergreen Service Providers has been serving the IDD community since 1991. More than a service provider, they build lasting relationships with clients and their families. Myers assures the uniquely- challenged individuals who are the focus of their work that, “We are here for the long haul, to walk with you on each step of your journey.” To learn more about IDD or becoming a host home provider visit www.EvergreenServiceProviders.com.
Other Valuable References/Resources:
The National Association of Councils on Developmental Disabilities (NACDD)
The Association of University Centers on Disabilities (AUCD)
The National Disability Rights Network (NDRN)