Special Needs: Mid-Ohio Valley provides opportunities

March is Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month, a designation cemented 30 years ago by President Ronald Reagan, who asked Americans to provide the “encouragement and opportunities” needed for those with developmental disabilities to reach their full potential. Events in the Mid-Ohio Valley over the past several days provide just a few of the examples that show local organizations accepted that challenge and have been running with it ever since.

Hundreds of high school students with special needs got a chance to meet with businesses and agencies who could help them discover jobs and opportunities that might exist after graduation, at the spring Transition Fair, organized by the Transition Committee of the Mid-Ohio Valley and supported by the West Virginia Division of Rehabilitation Services.

“All of these students can come to one place to get resources to plan for their futures after high school,” said Marsha Spiker, a rehabilitation program specialist with WVDRS.

It is a fantastic way to provide guidance and reassurance to a group of young people who must sometimes navigate a different path.

There are also events such as the Very Spectacular Arts Festival, which provides not only exposure to the arts, but an opportunity to participate, for school children with disabilities.

“The community goes all out for these kids, and the kids seem to be having so much fun,” said Jesse Husk, a volunteer and elementary education major at WVU-P.

Our community does go all out for the kids and adults who might require different approaches to education, or a different set of services and job opportunities. There is always room for improvement of course, but it is encouraging to know how many resources and events are available to ALL the residents of the Mid-Ohio Valley.