March is National Developmental Disabilities Awareness month as proclaimed in 1987 by President Ronald Reagan. Since that time, there have been many steps forward in educating society about the special needs population.
According to Baptist Children’s Homes’ (BCH) Peggy Pennington, there is opportunity for continued growth in supporting these special individuals that are so near to her heart.
“Folks who have developmental disabilities are just like you and me,” she explained. “They are people in our community who have the same goals and dreams that we all have. They just need some extra support.”
Pennington is Director of BCH’s Developmental Disabilities Ministry (DDM) that provides nine statewide group homes for special needs men and women. She and her staff, who provide care for the residents, work hard each day to give them needed support and resources.
“Involving our residents in their communities is a natural part of what we do through DDM,” Pennington said. “Creating opportunities for them to have interactions with friends both inside and outside of our homes is so important.”
Pennington said DDM residents actively volunteer, are locally employed, are involved in church, and attend a variety of educational classes.
“We provide them with at least 14 hours of activities each week,” she said. “We work with them to identify things that are important to them, the things they want to have as a part of their lives, and ensure that every day is a meaningful day.”
The overall aim for DDM is to support each resident in reaching his or her life goals whatever those dreams may be.
“We want the public to know that special needs adults have the ability to achieve their dreams,” she concluded. “It’s about focusing on ability over disability.”
Learn about BCH's Developmental Disabilities Ministry at www.hereismyhome.org