Students share convention stories

Opportunity Center Self Advocacy and Support Director Cynthia Morrison and Seneca STIRS members presented what they gained from attending the Ohio Self Determination Association conference for Seneca County Developmental Disabilities board members Tuesday afternoon.

The Steps Toward Independence and Responsibility group included Patrick Steyer, Ryan Herr, Sean Allison, Jennifer Berman, Michelle Smith, Lisa Krauss and David Atkins. Krauss was appointed by Gov. John Kasich to sit on a 25 member developmental disabilities council that discusses and makes decisions regarding Medicaid, grants totaling $250,000-$300,000 annually and will continue through 2015.

Forty-one STIRS members graduated this year, and they have taught self-advocacy classes and spoken to community groups.

The Employment First program that encourages community employment instead of working in sheltered workshops was discussed at the conference and Atkins posed the question, “What if I don’t want to work in the community? The Re-ads program helped me.”

Seneca STIRS have several goals for 2013-14. They plan to have a representative on the local employment first panel. They want to develop and teach a bullying awareness program at the center and in the community. They want to teach Project STIR classes to students with disabilities at the transition age. They are to continue teaching STIR classes for adults receiving services. They plan to develop and implement a system in which the person receiving services is running their ISP meetings.

STIRS members thanked board members for covering their expenses to the conference.

Superintendent Lew Hurst informed board members the Opportunity Center has been asked by the North Central Ohio Educational Service Center to collaborate with Vanguard-Sentinel Career Center, Tiffin City Schools, Mohawk and Seneca East Local Schools and the NCOESC to apply for a clean-energy grant through the Ohio Department of Education. If the grant should be approved, the center may receive three new energy-efficient buses that use natural gas as their fuel source.

Board members took action to approve a resolution authorizing participation in the grant application.

The board also approved a resolution to support the Bridges expansion, a program that assists young adults and adults in gaining community employment. The expansion is for a $40,000 pledge of local resources to match federal dollars.

Hurst introduced Natasha Hiser-Purkey, the newly hired Director of Services and Support Administration, and board members welcomed her. She previously worked as an SSA in Seneca and Wyandot counties and an investigative agent.

Hurst also noted the federal government shutdown only is affecting the Title XX program funding at present.

In other business, the board:

Approved the ethics council recommendation of renewing four contracts for services

Asked Hurst to create a resolution stating SCOC would hire the best candidate for positions after discussing rehiring retirees.

Approved the purchase of hams for Opportunity Center employees for their dedication during the past year.

Approved financial support of $6,000 toward the expenses of the 2013 Unity Conference Nov. 9-10.

Approved the name change of behavior support specialist to resource and support coordinator reflecting the positive intervention culture and good life programs.

Set a board retreat for Oct. 23.

Reviewed nine policies with two revisions.

The 169 board is to meet at 5 p.m. Nov. 12.