This edition of Making a Difference will introduce you to our council leadership team. You will note that GCDD Chairman Nick Perry has co-written this letter with Executive Director Eric Jacobson. This will be a regular column. Nick was appointed to GCDD in November 2020 and elected chairman in January 2021.
This change coincides with the Georgia Council on Developmental Disabilities’ (GCDD) efforts to elevate the voice of those with intellectual/developmental disabilities (I/DD) and their families. We believe that you will see this kind of collaboration in the new efforts that GCDD will undertake in the coming years.
First, let us congratulate those of you who have gotten their COVID-19 vaccine. This is your ticket to going out and visiting with friends and family. It is the time to start seeing each ot her at meetings and conferences. We want to encourage those who have not gotten their vaccine to do so. The DD Network and the Aging Network are working to make sure every Georgian gets a vaccine. We recognize that some may be hesitant to get the vaccine, and we want to be able to answer any questions you might have.
Second, every five years, the United States Administration for Community Living requires that DD Councils submit a strategic plan describing how they will use federal dollars to address issues of importance to people with I/DD and their families. We thank those of you who participated in this process over the last year. We listened to you and with your encouragement are proposing bold, risk-taking efforts. GCDD is excited to begin work on this new plan that will focus on Systems Change, Self-Advocacy and Diversity. While there are many details to be decided upon, we know that our readers and others will be key to our success. GCDD will continue to be leaders in advocacy, communications and supporting projects that will improve the lives of people with I/DD and their families.
Finally, after a year with kids being home and learning online, we want to help prepare for the return to schools. We have heard from parents, siblings and students in elementary school, high school and college. There are many questions about what happens when summer is over and school begins in the fall. Making a Difference has the answers for you. What do I as a parent need to know about schools opening in the fall? Will my child be required to have a vaccine? What happens if my child has regressed during the year; will there be extra help? What about my child’s sibling who has struggled and may need mental health supports? We have reached out to leadership at the Department of Education and with educators and parents to talk about what schools will look like in the fall.
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