Aspire of WNY is proud to have recently attended the thirty-fifth annual Developmental Disabilities Awareness Day (“DDDay”) at the Niagara Falls Convention Center. This was the first time the conference had been held in person since 2019, making this an extra exciting trip for the staff and individuals from Aspire of WNY’s own Brock Day Habilitation Program and some of our residences.
The staff and individuals who attended the event could sit in on workshops throughout the day. One afternoon workshop featured Aspire of WNY staff to showcase our ADAPT Fashions! Program. This program, overseen by our Adult Development and Professional Training Service team, is a boutique open to offer gently used adaptive professional attire to the public. Presenting at DDDay were team members Erik Milbrath (Coordinator of Vocational Services), alongside Jennifer Young and Gary Threat (Senior Employment Specialists). They discussed the lack of professional adaptive clothing in the mass retail market while providing job-seekers at the conference information about ADAPT Fashions! The event also included a vendor fair. Team members from Aspire of WNY’s Outreach, Human Resources, and Student Transition Services departments passed out free swag and information packets to those in attendance to inform them about our services.
Later in the afternoon, an awards reception was held in which Aspire of WNY’s very own Hayley Szyklinski was recognized as the 2023 Person of the Year! Hayley’s progress over the last year made her a perfect recipient for this award as she has gained confidence, learned new self-advocacy skills, and even landed a job as a relief Direct Support Professional (DSP) within our agency. Hayley proudly accepted this award and warmly thanked her mother and Liane Agro, Coordinator of Day Services Opportunities at Aspire of WNY.
In addition to the vendor fair, workshops, and awards reception, there was also a game fair, Zumba and yoga classes, and an art gallery. Many individuals attended the Zumba and yoga classes, and participants in the games fair enjoyed games such as cornhole and golf. To end this exciting day, staff and individuals attended a reception with appetizers, refreshments, a basket raffle, and a vibrant dance party with a DJ!
It is easy to see why this event is vital to the growth of both our agency and the community. It allows providers, individuals, families, and local officials to discuss current issues and events, identify where advocacy is needed, acknowledge growth, and experience an outpouring of inclusivity and acceptance.
“The networking that happens at DDDay is so important to all of us, staff and individuals,” explains Mary Anne Coombe, Vice President of Day Services. “It’s great to hear about all the new things happening across different agencies and to see the individuals we support in action, having a great day with their support systems, peers, and friends.”