SIDNEY — At the Shelby County Board of Developmental Disabilities (SCBDD), September is a month of appreciation. Appreciation for Direct Support Professionals (providers/DSPs). Appreciation for the county board staff. And appreciation for all people and families who are part of the developmental disability community.
On Sept. 12, the SCBDD invited staff members, providers and their families to gather at Vandemark Farm in Sidney for a day of fun and social connection. The day was a reminder to DSPs that the county board supports them and is grateful for their hard work and dedication to human services.
There is an increased need for Direct Support Professionals now more than ever. About 10 years ago, Ohio implemented the Employment First initiative and more recently declared Ohio a Technology First state. These initiatives encourage more people with developmental disabilities to live independently and seek employment. DSPs are one of the greatest supports to help people with DD continue this movement.
Direct Support Professionals do exactly as their name implies. They provide direct support to individuals with developmental disabilities. They might be helping with life skills in the home. They might be helping transport people to appointments and activities outside the home. They might also be helping someone learn new skills in a workplace setting.
SCBDD Superintendent Leigh AnneWenning said, “DSPs are essential to the developmental disabilities community. Without adequate numbers of DSPs, all of our progress towards real community integration is lost. People with intellectual and developmental disabilities deserve choices in their life and access to their communities, and the DSPs are the ones who work daily to ensure those choices exist. This event was just a small token of appreciation for DSPs who choose to work in Shelby County, and we look forward to continuing to support them in a variety of ways.”
Throughout the day, everyone invited enjoyed a wide variety of activities at Vandemark Farm. Some activities included ziplining, putter golfing, fishing, a corn maze, a playground and hayrides. Several SCBDD staff members cooked and prepared food for guests. DSPs attending the event could also enter to win door prizes.
During the rest of the year, the SCBDD continues assisting DSPs with a variety of resources. According to Wenning, “We recognize the important role of people working as providers and DSPs. We also recognize that the system in place can be complicated to navigate. That’s why we try every day to provide resources, support, grants and guidance to the providers working in our county.”
Seeing providers, their families and the people they serve enjoy the appreciation event was a great reminder of how rewarding a career as a DSP can be. Anyone interested in a becoming a Direct Support Professional can contact the Shelby County Board of DD at 937-497-8155.