Katie - Baker's IGA
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Katie works at Baker’s IGA in Mount Vernon. She started her employment career through the Summer Youth Work Experience where she toured many different places of employment— Baker’s was by far her favorite! After she graduated from high school she started working with them two days a week. She loves working hard so she can save her money to go to concerts! Each day she starts with restocking the ice cream section, then makes her way through the store until all the departments are fully stocked and clean!

Carina - Dairy Queen

Carina has always had a dream of working in the community, talking to new people and earning her own money. Since July she has been working at Dairy Queen in Mount Vernon. She enjoys delivering food and ice cream to all the different customers, busing tables, cleaning the restaurant and learning new skills. She loves talking to all of the customers that come through and she ensures they have a wonderful experience at their location!

It makes me proud that I can be on my own!
— Carina G.
Luke - AVI Food Systems

Luke started his employment journey by doing Summer Youth Work Experience at various places around Knox County. His favorite place to work was AVI Food Systems at Kenyon College. He recalls that the first time he worked there he ate so much food he almost made himself sick! He’s been employed there for a little over a year and really enjoys working in the bakery department. He enjoys helping students fill up their plates, cleaning, sweeping, mopping and ensuring the departments are clean. He has great supports from his co-workers, managers and job coach.

I like getting paid and trying to do different things
— Luke F.
David - living with a new family

David spent many years of his life living at Mount Vernon Developmental Center.  He grew close to many of his peers, staff and administration-- who wouldn't love his ornery antics and clever wit?!  He was especially close with one of his TPW's- Ethel.  After Ethel retired from MVDC she continued visiting with David, taking him out to eat and church on Sundays.  She couldn't stand the thought of not having him in her life.  She contacted Caregiver Homes and they helped her and her husband become a Shared Living site.  David has been living with them in their home and they can't imagine life any other way!

Summerfest 2018

For the past five years the Knox County Board of Developmental Disabilities has thrown our annual "Summerfest" to celebrate summer, sun and have fun!  Each year carries a different theme and activities- this year we celebrated with many different organizations across our county!  We love being able to partner and collaborate with so many amazing organizations to help with inclusion and break down barriers for the people and families in our program!

It was wonderful watching everyone interact with the various booths set up from community partners and having conversations by asking unique and thoughtful questions to all of the first responders that came to support our event!  Thank you to everyone who helped make last week so successful!

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Striving for Sensory Inclusion
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ICAN2 (Involvement, Community, Advocacy and Networking Too) is a group of Self-Advocates from Knox County who are dedicated to promoting inclusion and improving accessibility for all.  Last year they learned about the Akron Zoo and how they were the second zoo in the United States to create a Sensory Inclusive environment for all patrons that come to their zoo.  Akron Zoo partnered with KultureCity to improve their ability to assist and accommodate guests with sensory processing needs. Their objective is to provide an inclusive and seamless experience for ALL guests regardless of age and ability including those with sensory processing needs. 

In April 2018 ICAN2 met with Elena Bell, who works with the Akron Zoo so she could help the group understand how they implemented this program into their zoo.  She explained that all of the staff at the zoo are trained in recognizing what a "melt down" looks like and understanding what sensory sensitive means, what it can look like and the different needs people may have.  They provide Sensory Bags at no cost to anyone who comes to the zoo.  The bags include noise cancelling headphones, fidget toys, sunglasses and a cue card to help them express their wants and needs.  There are guest comfort stations that individuals or families can use to help calm down and get away from the crowds.  There are quiet zones and headphone zones throughout the entire zoo.  On Akron Zoo's website, they have a Social Story that people can view prior to coming so they know what to expect before they arrive.

In June the self advocates were able to go to the Akron Zoo to see the new program!  Many people noticed how easy it was to find the "headphone zones" and "quiet zones" so they knew what was coming.  They also appreciated the fidget toys so they could have something to occupy their hands while waiting to view an exhibit.

ICAN2 is hoping that the Columbus Zoo will take note of this wonderful program and implement it in their zoo!  If you would like to see this become a reality  for Columbus, Eleana Bell recommended that patrons should write down the different things Akron Zoo does on the Columbus Zoo's comment cards when you visit and give them Elena's contact information:

Elena Bell Marketing & Group Sales Manager, email: embell@akronzoo.org, Phone: 330-375-2550, ext. 7251

20 Years of Dedicated Service

If you ever make your way to Danville, OH you are sure to run into Linda.  She is always buzzing around town and knows everyone!  She is a diehard Danville Blue Devils fan and is always cheering them to victory alongside her friends and new acquaintances. 

Linda grew up in the Youngstown, OH area and went to the Youngstown School for the Retarded where she learned to twirl her baton—which she still does proudly!  Her family relocated to Knox County many years ago and she loves the Knox County community. 

Twenty years ago Linda was able to land her job at the Knox Community Hospital food service department with help from her friend and boss Parker.  She enjoyed doing dishes, building friendships and having many celebrations alongside her co-workers.  Earlier this year she retired with 20 years of dedicated service at KCH!  When she retired her coworkers put together a photo album to help her remember all of the fun memories they have made together over the years.  When she recalls all of her years at KCH, her favorite part of it all was all of the people that she was able to work with.

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Now that Linda is retired she has more time to spend with her boyfriend Tom.  She loves getting to go to the Hangout for dinner, watch TV and just hang out for date night.  She loves to go to secondhand stores with her friend Lacey to buy artificial flowers.  They then create new beautiful arrangements with all of their flowers!  Her home is adorned in their beautiful creations and she is excited to help create floral arrangements for her nephew’s upcoming wedding!

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She enjoys talking to the students at Danville Elementary and High School as they walk past her house and always makes sure to talk to the teachers and crossing guards!  She loves to go to the High School basketball and football games and walking around town talking to all of her friends and neighbors. 

If you see Linda out and about make sure you congratulate her on her retirement!

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"Something I Need to Do"
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When you first meet Daniel, the first thing you notice is his soulful eyes and passion for sharing his story.  Due to nerve damage from surgery, Daniel is legally blind.  He wears an eye patch over his right eye most days because the light causes his eye to become sore from trying to focus.  Daniel also struggles with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and Anxiety. 

He attributes his passion for music in helping him deal with his emotions and overcome adversities.  He studied and received his Bachelor of Arts degree in Music from Kenyon College. He is classically trained in piano and keyboard and since graduating college he mostly composes melodies and rhythms on his computer using MuseScore, a program that helps him write.  He has recently learned about Braille Music and is learning more about transcribing music into Braille through a program on his computer.  Daniel sometimes finds it difficult to write music in ways that most other composers write. He stated that most composers sketch music out on paper, but he cannot do that.  Instead he types it in Braille.  He is hopeful that once he is fluent in Braille it will help him be able to learn more languages.

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Writing music is just something I need to do
— Daniel
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"Writing music is just something I need to do," said Daniel.  It helps him deal with his emotions, "some styles can help you focus or calm down." When he is writing, he feels like it helps him focus on the emotion he is trying to work through; whether that is a romantic feeling, sadness, anxiety. Daniel also really enjoys singing in choir with his church and singing every year for the Messiah at Mount Vernon Nazarene University.

When Daniel isn't writing music or singing, he enjoys working at Kenyon College assisting with website maintenance and maintaining servers for Biology experiments.  His hours vary depending on the needs of the students and he appreciates the flexibility he has with his job.  He feels that his Master's Degree in Applied Statistics from Rochester Institute of Technology helps him with the experiments and maintaining them well.  

He enjoys reading about technology and learning about the different devices that are out there that can help people.  He feels statistical thinking methods play into determining what devices can help meet different needs.  He enjoys helping Kenyon students who have accessibility needs by scanning in materials to help them learn easier.

Daniel appreciates any help he can get; whether it's from a device, his parents, his church family at First Church of God, Kenyon College or from support staff who occasionally help him clean his apartment.  He has been evaluated for adaptive equipment for people who have difficulty with their vision.  He has a magnifier, sock blocks (help him keep pairs of socks together), Braille display on his computer, and a computer screen reader.  All of these devices help him live independently in his own apartment, create music and work.

If he could give advice to anyone who is struggling, it would be "be more proactive in seeking help."

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Healthy Living: Bodies In Motion

Knox DD has partnered with the Knox County Health Department, Mount Vernon Nazarene University, Ohio State University Extension, Chef Ev and local providers to bring education and opportunities to people in our program to learn more about living healthy.  Our journey started with educating direct care staff and individuals on portion sizes, healthy meal options and how to cook healthy meals in their own kitchens!  The next phase to our Healthy Living journey is providing opportunities to exercise.  Individuals from all day programs in Knox County have partnered with Mount Vernon Nazarene University Athletic Department to learn how to play basketball, soccer, use treadmills, exercise balls, stationary bikes among other exercises! 

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