Developmental Disabilities of Clark County celebrates inclusion, honors 5 with ‘Golden Leaf’

Members of the Clark County community, who provide support to citizens with developmental disabilities, were recognized with Golden Leaf Awards from the Developmental Disabilities of Clark County.

“We are celebrating the inclusion in the community of people with disabilities,” Melissa Baker, community support supervisor at the Developmental Disabilities of Clark County said at an awards luncheon on Wednesday. “We are recognizing individuals as well as businesses and other organizations who work very hard to make sure the community understands that people with disabilities are just like everybody else.”

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Chris Ulmer, a former teacher and founder of Special Books by Special Kids (SBSK), a blog that shares interviews he conducts with people with developmental disabilities or special needs.

Ulmer said he focuses on the things people have in common, not the differences.

He said the first question he asks in the interviews is: “‘What do you want the world to know about you?”’

Ulmer said the goal of SBSK, whose videos can be found on YouTube, to educate everyone. “When you start a conversation and include everybody, we all grow,” he said.

The Developmental Disabilities of Clark County handed out five awards.

Michael Brassfield won the Dr. F.F. Mueller Visionary Award.

This award recognizes a leader who is making an impact in the community for individuals with developmental disabilities through inclusive opportunities, innovative programs, volunteerism, or organizational partnerships according to DDCC.

“It started when I was in high school…each step built upon the rest.” Brassfield said. “This is a special moment to me”

Brassfield has worked for Town and Country Adult Services, Developmental Disabilities of Clark County, and TAC with the goal of helping others accomplish their own goals. He has participated in several other activities to provide care, support, and friendship to individuals with developmental disabilities.

Derek Snowden won the Rosemary Paxson Award.

Snowden is the owner of InDistress Co., a reclaimed furniture woodshop. He has welcomed individuals with disabilities to the world of retail and and has helped them learn marketing and business skills.

Janie Gearhart won the DSP Excellence Award.

Gearhart has worked with individuals with developmental disabilities for 33 years and is described as “having an exceptional amount of patience, consistently going over and above what is expected when caring for individuals.”

Jennifer Lemmons won the Donnis Bailey Self Advocacy Award.

“It means a lot to me,” Lemmons said. “Donnis Bailey was my former softball coach.”

Lemmons has a passion for advocating for herself and others with developmental disabilities. She is a youth softball coach and a member of SAY.

Clark County Job and Family Services (JFS) won the Champion City Employer of the Year Award.

JFS has supported a man with developmental disabilities who has worked for the agency for over 20 years. They were recognized for their inclusive, quiet, and impactful efforts.

All nominees for the Golden Leaf awards have contributed to the lives of individuals with developmental disabilities in the Clark County community.

“They include them in their day-to-day activities and treat them like everybody else,” Baker said.

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