Ventura brings awareness to disabled community at DD Advocacy and Awareness Day

Ria Parikh | Staff Writer

Students arounds around the state of Ohio stood up to make their voices heard, and among them was an outstanding student from Mason High School.

On March 8, senior Jose’ Ventura represented Warren County at the Developmental Disability (DD) Advocacy and Awareness Day. This annual event is funded by a grant from the Ohio Developmental Disabilities Council (ODDC) and was held at the Ohio statehouse. At the event, the attendees spoke to senators and heard speeches from students and from Governor John Kasich.

Ventura said the purpose of the event was to make the government aware of the importance of funding services and facilities for disabled people.

“We talked to one of the (senators) about transportation for the advocacy group,” Ventura said. “(We also talked about) people who need transportation for their disabilities and medicaid waivers.”

This is Ventura’s first year going, and he said he enjoyed seeing his peers both within and outside his group.

“It was my first time, and it was awesome to be there,” Ventura said. “Each of the counties had some people there to represent them, (and) most of the people from the advocacy group that I’m in were there.”

Ventura said one thing that inspired him was hearing about how one student was able to play guitar and show that having a disability does not put a limit on what someone can do.

“There was one boy who gave a speech who also learned to play guitar and is in a band,” Ventura said. “(He played) two songs on his guitar, but he told us how he achieved getting there. He mostly did it by himself, but he also had parent (support).”

Work Study and Transition Coordinator Keri Thompson said the underlying purpose of the event is to educate the people who can help the individuals who are disabled by providing funding.

“The purpose is just to show that people with disabilities can do anything they want to do; it’s just that they may need some support to get there,” Thompson said. “And that was the whole point: To try to make sure the policy makers and the people in charge of funding realize that those policies and that money does go to do some good things.”

Thompson said she is proud of Ventura for attending and taking initiative at the conference.

“We’re very proud of Jose’ representing us there,” Thompson said. “He did a great job, and he approached Governor Kasich on his own and said, ‘Hey can I get a picture with you?’ So that’s a pretty big deal that he actually sought him out for a picture.”

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