Just ahead of National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM, October), a statewide employment conference at Great Wolf Lodge in Mason, Ohio, WORKING Together was hosted on September 15 and 16, and was organized by the Hamilton, Butler, Clermont, and Warren County Boards of Developmental Disabilities, and the University of Cincinnati/ University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities. The conference brought together more than 300 people with disabilities and their families, service providers, and County Board staff, to learn from national and state leaders about expanding employment options for people with disabilities.
Among the featured speakers were DODD Director John Martin, and Kristen Helling, DODD Employment First project manager. Director Martin observed that Ohio has been fortunate to have a governor who fully supports the Employment First mindset, and has enthusiastically followed the progress of these efforts since signing the Employment First Executive Order in 2012. He noted,
Community-based integrated employment for people with developmental disabilities is an issue that has generated a lot of energy around the nation, and we are very fortunate to have the support and the resources that we have here in Ohio. We approach the future with both excitement and anxiety, as we know change can be difficult at the outset.”
Kristen Helling addressed attendees at the WORKING Together conference, and lists some of the many resources already available — as well as in development — to help people find meaningful employment. Both online and in-person training opportunities, helpful printed pieces for individuals who are looking for jobs, and a unique partnership with Opportunities for Ohioans with Disabilities (OOD) are just some of these resources.
For additional information on the two-day conference, including presentations shared during sessions, visit the Employment First website.