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Tummy Time is an important part of your baby’s growth and development. Tummy Time helps strengthen muscles in your baby’s neck, shoulders and trunk. It encourages your little one to look up, left and right. Best of all, it is a great opportunity for you to spend time together.

Summit DD works with families throughout Summit County to help them with early childhood learning and development strategies. Here are a few tips from Early Intervention Manager Kathy Supple, to help you implement a successful Tummy Time routine with your little one.

  1. Find space. You can begin to introduce a Tummy Time routine to your little one right away.
    Begin with an open area on the floor. Lay a clean blanket on the floor and place your baby on the blanket on his or her stomach.
  2. Start slowly. Begin with 3-5 minute sessions a couple times a day. As your little one gets stronger and more used to the idea, you can increase the Tummy Time sessions and duration (working toward 40-60 minutes daily).
  3. Engage. Add favorite toys to encourage your little one to look or reach for them. This helps build strength as well as hand-eye coordination and dexterity.
  4. Join them. Now get down on your baby’s level. They are more likely to enjoy Tummy Time if you are there with them. Talk, sing, play!

Because the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that babies sleep on their backs for safety reasons (download our ABCs of sleep graphic), babies need daily supervised Tummy Time to help with their development. Tummy Time helps to build the strength and coordination needed for rolling over, crawling, reaching and playing.

It’s important to remember, every child develops at a different pace. If you are concerned that your child may not be meeting his or her milestones, talk to your doctor or call Ohio Early Intervention at 800-755-4769 to complete a referral. Remember, Summit DD Early Intervention services are provided
to eligible families free of charge, regardless of income.

Happy Tummy-Timing!

Want more?

The post Tummy Time Tips for Success appeared first on Summit County Developmental Disabilities Board.

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Looking for fun activities to keep you busy during the summer months? Well you’re in luck, because we compiled this comprehensive list with loads of inclusive events and activities to choose from. Be sure to visit this page often, because we’ll keep it updated throughout the summer season!

Summer Events and Activities

Summit Metro Parks Spree for All

  • May 1st through June 30th
  • Enjoy your Metro Parks on flat, easy trails — good for strollers, wheelchairs, walkers and canes. Spree rewards are FREE for Summit County residents.

Summit DD BLAST Events

  • May 3rd (Cinco De Mayo Dance), May 18th (Bowling), June 8th (Riverfront Irish Festival), June 21st (RubberDucks Game)
  • The mission of BLAST is to provide safe social and recreational activities to people with developmental disabilities. BLAST events are a great way to develop and foster friendships with peers.

Lights Up Sound Down Sensory Friendly Movies

  • May 19th (Detective Pikachu), June 2nd (Aladdin), June 30th (Toy Story 4), July 28th (Lion King)
  • Looking for a sensory-friendly night at the movies? Lake 8 Movies is hosting events this summer that are fully inclusive! Showtime is typically between 4-5:30PM. Call 330-848-6566 for all the details about a week prior to the showing. Tickets are $7.50 and include a small popcorn and small drink!

Special Needs Sock Hop

  • May 18th from 1-3PM
  • New Life Episcopal Church is hosting a Sock Hop for adults with special needs! Plan to sing, dance, and make new friends!

Zoothing Hours at the Akron Zoo

  • May 19th, June 21st, July 7th, August 16th from 9-10AM
  • The zoo will open an hour early for guests with special needs who don’t like crowds or loud noises.

Autism Society Step Into Autism (Formerly the Autism 5K Run and Walk)

  • June 15th
  • The Autism Society of Greater Akron (ASGA) will host its ninth annual signature FUNdraiser to support individuals and families living with autism in our community! This one-of-a-kind family event brings professionals, educators, families, neighbors, and friends together to celebrate autism.

Autism Society iCan Bike Camp

  • July 8th through 12th
  • This 5-day camp teaches individuals of all different abilities how to ride a two-wheel bicycle without training wheels.  It is truly an amazing experience for both participants and volunteers.

Northeast Ohio Buddy Walk

  • August 24th from 8AM-12PM
  • The Buddy Walk was created by the National Down Syndrome Society in 1995 to promote the acceptance and inclusion of people with Down syndrome. This year will mark the 19th anniversary of the Northeast Ohio Buddy Walk!

Playhouse Square Sensory-Friendly Lion King

  • August 31st at 1:30PM
  • Playhouse Square is proud to present a sensory-friendly performance of Disney’s The Lion King. This performance is intended for individuals with sensory sensitivities, autism spectrum disorders and other sensory, social and cognitive challenges or issues. We welcome family and friends to experience the show together. For more sensory-friendly Playhouse Square information, click here.

Cedar Point Fun for All

  • Resources available throughout the entire 2019 Season
  • First and foremost, Cedar Point is about fun. Fun for everyone. Here you’ll find everything you need to know about navigating and enjoying the park and all of its experiences for those with disabilities.

Home Depot Kids Workshops

  • Home Depot is not just for adults! The store offers DIY projects for even the youngest builders. The free Home Depot Kids Workshop offers a different building project each month and provides a safe, creative and hands-on parent-child experience.

Sky Zone Sensory Hours

  • Enjoy the freedom of jumping. Sensory hours provide a quieter, toned-down jumping experience for those with special needs.

Chuck E. Cheese Sensory Sensitive Sundays

  • Chuck E. Cheese is proud to support families who have children with autism and other special needs. We offer a sensory-friendly experience on the first Sunday of every month at participating locations, opening our stores two hours before their normal opening time. Our Sensory Sensory events include a trained and caring staff that work to ensure each guest has a fun-filled visit. We realize that the Chuck E. experience can be very stimulating for any child, so our mission is to create an event that allows ALL kids to be a kid.

The post 2019 Inclusive Summer Activity Guide appeared first on Summit County Developmental Disabilities Board.

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HB 166, “As introduced” version

The Ohio General Assembly introduced HB 166, Governor Mike DeWine’s proposed state budget for the 2020 – 2021 fiscal biennium.   Throughout budget hearings by the House Finance Committee on Health and Human Services, several key priorities of the budget were discussed that will have a local impact in Summit County.  The state’s budget priorities include investing in the direct service professional workforce, investing in children, investing in community transportation, investing in youth with complex needs, and investing in the quality of our system.

Investing in Our Direct Service Professional Workforce

A shortage in the direct care workforce is a critical issue across the state and in Summit County.  Employers right here in Summit County are approaching 60 percent turnover rates, creating hardships for private disability service providers and families who are trying to find coverage.  The Medicaid reimbursement rate currently compensates direct care staff at an average of $11.12/hr and is not reflective of the demanding nature of the job, nor the competitive labor market.

Summit DD, along with the other county boards in the state, has partnered with the state to address this critical issue to invest jointly in raising hourly rates of direct care workers.  In the current budget proposal, with state and local dollars, the base rate for homemaker personal care direct support professionals will increase approximately 11 percent over the biennium.  These are not county board employees, but employees of local disability service providers.  Upon implementation of the rate increases, these providers will complete a mandatory survey about their base wages and the results for each agency will be available to the public.  This level of transparency will ensure that the rate increases make their way to the direct support professionals paychecks.

For Summit County, this investment of $3.2 Million in state dollars will draw down another $5.6 Million in federal dollars for a total of $8.8 Million additional dollars that are reinvested into the local economy right here in Summit County.  These workers provide critical support to help more than 2,000 adults with disabilities who rely on these residential supports in Summit County.

Investing in Children

Summit County uses evidenced-based early intervention practices to give children the best start in life, understanding that they learn best through everyday experiences with people they know.  That’s why the Agency takes a consultative approach and works directly with families to develop and implement a plan that is unique to each family’s needs.

Summit County, like Ohio, has experienced growth in the number of Early Intervention referrals and the number of children served since 2014.  During that same time period, state funding has remained flat.  This budget increases funding for these vital services for more than 1,000 children in Summit County and expands eligibility to include lead exposure and neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS).

Investing in Community Transportation

Nearly 2,000 adults with disabilities in Summit County rely on transportation service providers to get them to where they need to go.  At the time the rate structures were developed for transportation services, providers typically carried large numbers of people to and from a single location.  This service needs to be modernized to become more and agile, empowering people with disabilities to become more involved in their community and to have more flexibility to get community jobs.   The additional investment in transportation services will allow stakeholders to develop innovative solutions to operate smaller vehicles for person-centered transportation.

Investing in Youth with Complex Needs

Summit DD works collaboratively with Children’s Services Board, ADM Board, Juvenile Courts, the Department of Health and several other systems as the county experiences a rise in the number of youth who have complex needs and are typically involved with multiple systems.  Summit DD has been the recipient of state grants to develop innovative solutions to meet these needs.

The state budget invests in our county’s youth and families to prevent or reduce out-of-home placements, prepare for a successful transition back home when respite services are needed and to build overall provider capacity.

Investing in Quality

While the direct support professional wage increase works to attract and retain a qualified workforce, wages are just one piece of the puzzle to ensure overall quality in our system.  Summit DD supports more than 400 providers in Summit County with training, technical support, and compliance monitoring.  In addition, Summit DD completes investigations into allegations of abuse or neglect and works directly with law enforcement officials on allegations that are criminal in nature.

The state budget provides Summit DD and the other county boards with more tools to take immediate actions to protect individuals where health and safety are at risk.  Provisions of the state’s budget allow the Director of Developmental Disabilities to immediately suspend a provider’s certification, using a summary suspension process, when there is serious noncompliance or substantial risk to the health and safety of a person.

The proposed budget also works to ensure fiscal accountability of each county board.  Provisions in the proposed budget will require Summit DD, and each county board, to submit a five-year projection of revenues and expenditure to ensure long-term financial sustainability.  Summit DD prepares and reviews long-term financial projections with the Board members and the county’s Social Service Advisory Council, however, this provides one additional layer of scrutiny on these projections.

Next Steps

The 2020-2021 fiscal biennium budget invests in our local workforce and the local economy.  It invests in our children.  It also takes steps to eliminate barriers that prevent people with disabilities from fully engaging in our community.

Lawmakers will resume budget discussions when they return from Spring Recess in late April when the full House Finance Committee will vote on the amended bill.  The full House will vote on the budget in early May before it moves to the Ohio Senate.

To express your support of this budget contact your local representative here.  Check back on SummitDD.org for updates on amendments during the budget process.

The post Local Impact of State Budget appeared first on Summit County Developmental Disabilities Board.

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What an amazing DD Awareness Month it’s been! Your overwhelming support made it a huge success. Together we made a massive impact in our community. Check out this amazing recap below, and be sure to look through the fun slideshow too!

  • Throughout the entire month of March more than 12,000 people engaged in Summit DD’s celebrations on social media!
  • On March 15th, Summit DD proudly sponsored the Inclusioneers Adapt-A-Car event, where hundreds of people watched as local children with disabilities received adapted Big Wheels vehicles.
  • On March 16th, hundreds of community members and organizations wore orange to support Inclusion Day. Even the Terminal Tower in Cleveland was lit with orange lights in celebration!
  • On March 21st, nearly one hundred people participated in a sensory-friendly movie night hosted by Summit DD’s BLAST Program.
  • On March 27th, at Summit DD’s Appreciation Breakfast, more than 250 elected officials, community leaders and disability service providers gathered at Quaker Square to honor the award recipients for making a difference in the lives of those with developmental disabilities.

The post Thank You for Celebrating DD Awareness Month appeared first on Summit County Developmental Disabilities Board.

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Believe it or not, it’s time to start thinking summer! Time for families start making plans for summer camp. We understand that planning for summer camp can be stressful for a parent of a child with special needs.  Summit DD’s Assistant Director of Inclusion, Lynnette Klejka, has three helpful tips for families looking at summer camp options.

“We want to make sure every child is set up for success,” shared Klejka about how Summit DD helps to support organizations around Summit County, like summer camps. “We can design trainings to fit the specific needs of the camp. What we’ve learned is that a strategy developed for one child, can be helpful to all children,” she continued.

Klejka also offers the following three tips to help families get the most out of their summer camp experience:

Be Open an Honest

This is probably the most important tip of the three. Klejka stressed that being open and honest with the camp you are considering will help them best meet your child’s needs. Be sure to let them know if there are any accommodations that your camper needs or any limitations they should know about. Your summer camp wants your child to be successful just as much as you do. If they have the background and knowledge about your child’s needs, they can create the right support system to help your child be successful.

Ask about experience

When talking to a potential camp, Klejka recommends you ask about any experience they’ve had with kids who have developmental disabilities. Find out how they accommodated other children in the past. She also encourages parents to ask about trainings camps have had to support kids with different abilities

“Just because a camp may not have had experience in the past with a child who has a disability, doesn’t mean they aren’t open to learning,” cautions Klejka. If a camp tells you that they do not have experience, but would be willing to learn, Klejka and her team are available to help. “We offer training and resources to Summit County camps,” she explained.  “Trainings cover topics like inclusion, universal design, person-first language and awareness for an array of disabilities.”

Set realistic expectations

Above all, Klejka recommends looking for a camp that will benefit your child the most – a camp that works with his or her strengths. She encourages you to think about what you want your child to get out of their camp experience to help steer your decision.  While it’s good to have goals, Klejka cautions it is important to be realistic with those goals. Stretching expectations too far can frustrate a child and have the opposite effect. “Camp is meant to be fun. It’s a place where kids can make meaningful friendships,” Klejka shared. Finding a camp that fits your child’s strengths can really help them grow and enjoy the experience.

Get support

Summit DD is a community resource that helps people with developmental disabilities reach their full potential. And we want to give Summit County camps the tools to help their campers with disabilities reach their full potential too. If you know a camp that could benefit from our resources and trainings, contact us. Let us help your camp make the most out of your camper’s summer experience.

The post 3 Tips to Create a Successful Summer Camp Experience for your Child with Special Needs appeared first on Summit County Developmental Disabilities Board.

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Thank you to all those who nominated someone for the 2019 Appreciation Awards. From the countless nominations that were submitted, it’s clear that Summit County firmly believes in inclusive communities.

There were so many amazing submissions, that it was difficult to narrow them down. We want to take the opportunity to recognize the achievements of these advocates, volunteers, community leaders, and other community partners who are actively helping to build communities that are welcoming for people of every ability.

Dottie Schrum Culture Award: Zach Grnach and Mary Beth Siegfried 

This award recognizes an outstanding employee from any organization, whose efforts or service have gone above and beyond to make a difference for those with developmental disabilities.

Zach Grnach and Mary Beth Siegfried support individuals, their families and caregivers in good and more challenging times, calm and anxious times, happy and sad times and heartwarming and heart breaking times. No matter what someone is going through, there is no doubt that Zach and Mary Beth will be the ears to listen, the shoulders to lean on, the professionals to seek innovations, take action, make phone calls and act as liaisons with doctors, hospitals and other entities that can often be intimidating. Their shared dedication to get to know those they provide services for at Individual Outcomes is paramount. This knowledge enables them to develop programs, seek out individualized innovations, equipment and services to provide every advantage to those they serve to work toward “living their best lives”.

Community Impact Award: Mike Firtha and Haylee DeSonne 

This award honors a person (or group) that is making an impact in the community for people with developmental disabilities through innovative programs, volunteerism, advocacy, or awareness efforts.

Mike Firtha is the founder of Inclusioneers, a non-profit organization with a mission to provide engineered solutions for individuals with specific needs. He has built his organization with mentor engineers from local businesses, student engineers from universities and others who share in this inclusive vision. Volunteers collaborate with families and other professionals to invent ways to provide mobility and independence so individuals can access public facilities and/or participate in activities or events. Mike Firtha and the Inclusioneers continue to ensure that our community grows in diversity: creating a more welcoming place to live and a brighter future for all!

Haylee DeSonne has pushed herself and others outside their traditional “comfort zones”. Functioning as a partner and team leader, Haylee coordinates the engineering assistance provided by the nonprofit Inclusioneers with over 30 volunteer engineering students from the University of Akron and seven experienced Mentor Engineers from local businesses. Haylee has a passion to solve engineering project problems designed to improve the quality of life for people of all abilities.

Russ Pry Community Leader of the Year Award: Frank Comunale

This award recognizes a government or business leader in our community who is helping to ensure that communities are more inclusive and that citizens of all abilities have a voice in their community.

Frank Comunale during his tenure as a Summit County Council member, including a term as Vice President, consistently and continuously put the interests of the citizens of Summit County before his own. Having served on the Rules, Health and Human Services, Public Works, and Planning and Economic Development Committees over the years, Frank developed a diverse knowledge and appreciation of the value and contributions of all citizens, including those with developmental disabilities. Summit DD was invited by Frank to countless public gatherings to talk about the Board’s vision and mission of creating a community where all people are welcomed and included. He made a personal point of assuring that the needs of those with disabilities were never overlooked or taken for granted. Later in his role with Job and Family Services, Frank opened a door of opportunity for youth with disabilities to experience and be paid for summer employment.  As a result, over the years hundreds of young adults with disabilities have experienced a new sense of worth, skill development and pride.

Carlene Weaver Achievement Award: Shaquan “Shaq” Mills-Lanier

This award honors individuals with developmental disabilities whose actions or self-advocacy help change perceptions or bring about positive awareness for those with developmental disabilities in their community.

Everyone loves a great comeback story, and Shaquan “Shaq” Mills-Lanier is the embodiment of that. Several years ago, Shaq was struggling in his personal life. However, over time his willingness to work with his team has brought him to a brighter place. He now thrives in his programs and recently received employment at a hotel in Cuyahoga Falls.

Congratulations to all of our award winners and nominees! Your outstanding efforts are helping to build inclusive communities for people of all abilities. These individuals and organizations will also be recognized at Summit DD’s Appreciation Breakfast and Awards Celebration on Wednesday, March 27th.

Join us in celebrating DD Awareness throughout the month of March!

The post Congratulations 2019 Appreciation Award Winners appeared first on Summit County Developmental Disabilities Board.

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It’s Inclusion Day time again. Grab your orange and let’s get ready to celebrate DD Awareness Month in style on March 16! 

2019 DD Awareness Month Kickoff - YouTube

Inclusion Day

Get out your orange shirts, pants, shoes and socks, because Saturday, March 16, 2019 is Inclusion Day. We need you to help paint Summit County orange as we celebrate. Inclusion Day is all about spreading the message of inclusion and showing support for people of all abilities.

Inclusion is about sharing experiences. So don’t forget to share pics of you and your school, co-workers or friends wearing orange and tag @SummitDD on Facebook or Twitter. We want to see your inclusion pride! #IncludeME

Along with wearing orange, here are some ideas for activities, books, posts, and even downloadable materials, so you can spread the message of inclusion!

Activities
  • Read a book about disabilities to your classroom/group (see book ideas below)
  • Hang a poster with the Summit DD logo in your window to show your support for inclusion
  • Share lunch time with someone with a disability
  • Schedule an activity that is appropriate for all abilities
  • Hold a building-wide art or essay contest to show why inclusion is important
Books
  • Title: Andy and His Yellow Frisbee
    Author: Mary Thompson
  • Title: Keith Edward’s Different Days
    Author: Karen Melberg Schwier
  • Title: We Can Do It!
    Author: Laura Dwight
  • Title: My Friend Ben
    Author: Wanda Gilberts Kachur
  • Title: Best Friends
    Author: Hope Benton
Social Media Post Ideas
  • I support inclusion! Wear orange March 16 for Inclusion Day with @SummitDD. #IncludeME
  • Community is stronger when everyone is included! We’re celebrating Inclusion Day with @SummitDD on March 16! #IncludeME
  • Are you wearing orange today? We are! Celebrate inclusion with us and @SummitDD! #IncludeME

We have downloadable materials below for you to use. Included are things such as: #IncludeME signs and stickers, and profile pics to swap out your picture with for the day.

With your help, we can build an inclusive community. Let’s turn Summit County orange and spread the message of inclusion on March 16. Thank you for celebrating Inclusion Day with Summit DD!

Downloadable Materials: Celebrate All Year Long

Check out our online events calendar to celebrate all year long.

The post Inclusion Day: Join in the Celebration on March 16 appeared first on Summit County Developmental Disabilities Board.

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Did you know that March is National DD Awareness Month? National Developmental Disabilities (DD) Awareness Month officially began in 1987 with a proclamation from President Reagan to help bring awareness and acceptance for people of every ability. Since then, families, self-advocates, advocacy groups and Ohio’s County Boards have been working to increase opportunities for people with disabilities. But there’s still more progress to be made!

2019 DD Awareness Month Kickoff - YouTube

Summit DD plays a vital role in the lives of more than 4,700 people and families in Summit County. We take our role seriously and strive to make meaningful connections for each child and adult with developmental disabilities in our community.

It starts with families who have young children. We connect little ones to the support they need to reach their full potential. Our team of early childhood professionals is there to assist families every step of the way with their child’s learning and development. But it doesn’t stop there.

Summit DD coordinates the essential services that people of all ages rely on to reach their goals. We listen, identify outcomes and then connect people to the support that will help them work toward their goals.

For some, having a job in their community is a priority. Summit DD works with adults to connect them to the support they need to succeed on the job. We work with our community partners to assist people with identifying, developing and retaining job skills that set them up for success in the workforce.

Others might have goals to live independently. We work with people to connect them to the support they need to be independent in their homes and communities so they can live their lives to the fullest.

Whether it’s for your family, in your workplace or in your neighborhood, Summit DD is working hard to make those meaningful connections for those we serve … one person at a time.

Join Us

This March, join us to help empower others! Share stories and participate in inclusive activities. Be part of the change we need to create truly inclusive communities.

Here are a few ideas to get you started:

Participate in one of our events: 

Get involved online

  • Read and share empowering articles from our blog.
  • Join the conversation on our Twitter or Facebook page and share information with your friends and family.
  • Sign up for our eNewletter informDD to be a leader of change here in the greater Akron area! (Just scroll to the bottom of the page and sign up in the blue footer.)

Be Part of the Change

We are committed to our mission of helping people of all abilities reach their full potential, one person at a time, but we need your help to make lasting progress. This March, ask yourself if you are doing all you can to make your community welcoming for people of every ability. Help us celebrate DD Awareness Month and keep moving Summit County forward for all of its citizens.

The post Celebrate March DD Awareness Month with Summit DD appeared first on Summit County Developmental Disabilities Board.

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The Tallmadge Little League Challenger Division is seeking players and buddies! This inclusive baseball program is designed for boys and girls with physical or developmental disabilities, and their typically developing peers.

Player Requirements and Information

  • Individuals age 4 to 22 can participate.
  • All players bat and play defensively every inning.
  • Games usually last about 1 hour and no score is kept.
  • Volunteer Buddies assist players as needed (Buddy info listed below).
  • Practices start in April 2019 and the season ends at the end of June 2019.

Buddy Requirements and Information

  • Buddies are volunteers who assist players with batting, fielding and running bases.
  • Buddies need to be at least 12 years of age.
  • Buddies are always needed.

Additional Information

  • You DO NOT need to be a Tallmadge resident to participate.
  • Please reach out before the player/buddy deadline on March 15, 2019.
  • Contact Tiffany Michael at 234-788-7468 or t.michalec@yahoo.com

Be sure to check out this fun story featuring a Challenger Division player named Cory!

The post Inclusive Baseball Program Needs Your Help appeared first on Summit County Developmental Disabilities Board.

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In 2018, over 120 Summit DD staff volunteered throughout Summit County for nearly 1,000 combined hours! They gave back to many local organizations including, Habitat for Humanity, Toys for Tots, United Way, One of A Kind Pet Rescue, Barberton YMCA, Good Samaritan Hunger Center, Boy Scouts of America, Akron-Canton Food Bank, Special Olympics of Ohio, and more.

“Our staff is driven to be active members in their community. I’m proud of their willingness to give back,” shared Summit DD Superintendent, John Trunk. This initiative is part of Summit DD’s strategic direction to build inclusive communities. Plus, by creating opportunities for staff to collaborate with one another, we hope to empower an engaged workface that achieves the best outcomes for the people we support—a goal in our 2019 Action Plan.

The post Summit DD Staff Volunteer Nearly 1,000 Hours in 2018 appeared first on Summit County Developmental Disabilities Board.

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