By Carolyn Marnon –
President Ronald Reagan signed a proclamation declaring March as Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month back in 1987. He urged “all Americans to join me in according to our fellow citizens with such disabilities both encouragement and the opportunities they need to lead productive lives and to achieve their full potential.”
To encourage Michigan residents to understand developmental disabilities, Governor Rick Snyder has also proclaimed March as Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month in Michigan.
The City of Wayne plays an important role in the lives of citizens with disabilities. The city has made great strides in making street corners accessible to those in wheelchairs and usable to those with visual deficits. Wayne has a state of the art accessible playground, Play 4 All, at Soroptimist Park that includes smooth surfaces, ramps and visually impaired play components.
Wayne also has some of the best disability service providers available in the state.
Community Living Services (CLS), located in downtown Wayne, is one of the largest non-profit agencies in Michigan. CLS supports individuals of all ages with physical, intellectual and developmental disabilities. According to CLS’s website “prior to 1978, children and adults with developmental disabilities were placed into large institutional settings.
Most of the individuals spent the majority of their lives, from childhood until death, on the grounds of the institutions. The few children who attended school were taught in classrooms on the grounds. Medical issues were addressed in the institution’s infirmary, and most other needed services were provided in the wards where the individuals lived. There was little or no contact with the outside world unless the individual’s family chose to take them home on the weekends.” Now, CLS provides support so individuals can exercise control and authority over their own lives.
Professional Outreach Counseling Services (POCS), now located at 34841 Veterans Plaza, is a combined behavioral, medical and pharmaceutical operation that works with a variety of individuals and families. They provide psychiatric and psychological assessments, and individual and family counseling services.
Services to Enhance Potential (STEP), 35000 Van Born Rd, and their Tried & True Thrift Store, 35004 W. Michigan Ave, bring vocational opportunities and more to individuals with disabilities. STEP serves over 1300 individuals in Wayne County. Tried & True opened in June 2007 in Wayne. It serves as an opportunity to train and employ individuals with developmental and mental disabilities.
“Wayne has a lot to be proud of as we recognize the important contributions our fellow citizens with disabilities make to our community,” says David Bourque, Resource Center Director-Western Wayne, STEP.