It takes Heart

The Knox County Chamber of Commerce holds their Annual Dinner and Awards Ceremony each January. The Knox County Board of Developmental Disabilities was nominated for and received the Heart Award, which honors a Chamber member that “achieves and maintains architectural design that compliments our community.” The All-Inclusive Playground that has been built at Memorial Park has been a massive project that broke ground in September and was completed in December of 2018. This playground will be a wonderful place for all families to come together to play and make wonderful memories!

Thank you, Knox County for helping us make our community a wonderful place to live, work and play!

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It's a Wonderful Life [Orange Barrel Productions]
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Knox County is an amazing place to live. We have such great supports, opportunities and a wonderful community of people. Orange Barrel Productions has been so inclusive to some people that are in our program and have included them in this year’s “It’s a Wonderful Life” performance.

You can catch Joe, Devine, Paul and David give exemplary performances at any of their upcoming shows. The show is scheduled for November 8, 9, 10, 15, 16 & 17. All shows begin at 7PM and tickets are $10.

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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