Spotlight on Direct Support Professionals

Tables at the Xenos conference center in Columbus were packed with more than 400 DSPs from throughout the state.

Tables at the Xenos conference center in Columbus were packed with more than 400 DSPs from throughout the state.

Last week, Ohio celebrated National Direct Support Professionals (DSPs) Recognition Week, spotlighting DSPs’ commitment to supporting people with developmental disabilities.  A statewide celebration and recognition event, sponsored by the Ohio Alliance of Direct Support Professionals (OADSP) in partnership with service providers, included opening remarks by DODD Director John Martin, who shared some observations on how DSPs’ creativity has made a huge difference in so many lives, including that of his son.  Following a personal story on the subject, he observed,

You use your creativity every day to do things like carve pumpkins, build birdhouses, explore a park — supporting the interests and needs of people in ways that improve their lives. Thank you for your creativity in bringing these kinds of experiences to people with developmental disabilities each day.”

In addition, he acknowledged that changes in the statewide developmental disabilities system are ultimately changes in peoples’ lives. “We are looking at how to best manage change in a planful way, and be mindful of the very foundation of our service system – people like you.”

In addition to debuting several original films about Direct Support Professionals made by DSPs themselves, the day’s agenda included a showing of The Key of G, a documentary film about disability, caregiving, and interdependence. It follows Gannet, a 22-year-old man with developmental disabilities, who moves from his family home to share an apartment with a group of artists and musicians who support him — not only as paid caregivers, but also as friends. Together, they create a uniquely successful model of supported living, and a compelling alternative to institutionalized care.

DODD salutes the work of DSPs and respects their contributions to the quality of life for Ohioans with developmental disabilities. For more information about OADSP and the professional credentialing programs offered to DSPs, visit the OADSP event website, or contact Executive Director Amy Gerowitz at agerowitz@me.com.

Left: (L.to R): Donna Lawson, Fatica Ayers, Valencia McAfee.  Donna and Valencia represent Resident Home Association of Greater Dayton.  They made a video entitled “DS Diva” which showed a DSP receiving costume parts as she gained trust and built a relationship with the person she supports. Donna and Valencia were presented a Film Star award by Ohio DD Council’s inimitable Ms. Ayers.

Left: (L.to R): Donna Lawson, Fatica Ayers, Valencia McAfee. Donna and Valencia represent Resident Home Association of Greater Dayton. They made a video entitled “DS Diva” which showed a DSP receiving costume parts as she gained trust and built a relationship with the person she supports. Donna and Valencia were presented a Film Star award by Ohio DD Council’s Fatica Ayers.

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