Image with text reads: Butler County Board of Developmental Disabilities. Our mission: Actively partnering with people to access the world.

We have a new mission statement!

Why a new mission statement?

Last year during a staff training, we heard from Dan Darkow, Disability and Access Educator. He spoke on the history of disabilities and highlighted the historic lack of access. He urged his audience to focus on enhancing access, noting that people often experience their disability only when met with a barrier. A person using a wheelchair, he said, can participate in the community the same as anyone else until they’re met with a building with no ramp or elevator, for instance.

A man sits in a motorized wheelchair. A service dog lays at his feet.
Dan Darkow speaking to Butler DD staff at a 2023 training.

Who was involved?

The idea began with SSA Director Jennifer Rice. After listening to Dan Darkow’s presentation, she was inspired to update our mission statement to better reflect our efforts to enhance access.

After discussing with the Leadership team, the mission statement draft was presented to our Diversity Equity and Inclusion team. The DEI team has representation from every department on staff and several improvements were suggested. From there, the draft was presented to the SpeakUp self-advocacy group. With their help, the final language was determined and the mission statement was presented to the Board for their approval.

A large group of people stand outside and smile for the camera. They stand in front of a building with the word Police above the door.
Members of the SpeakUp self-advocacy group.

What does it mean?

Actively: The word “Actively” was inserted in order to highlight the very deliberate and careful attention we ought to take when working with those we support. This is not a passive effort. We are actively engaged in this partnership.

Partnering with: Our role in supporting people with developmental disabilities is that of a partner. It is our goal to learn what each person wants in life and to provide tools necessary to achieve that. This indicates our vested interest in their success but also indicates their equal involvement.

People: This word was very deliberate. We want to be careful in our language, ensuring we are not creating a sense of “other.” We didn’t want to distinguish what kind of people because we don’t have that distinguishment. We are simply partnering with people.

to Access: This is the focus. We are here to help facilitate access. In every arm of our organization, this is our goal. That goal is met when Service and Support Administrators provide guidance during ISP meetings. It is met when Community Connections Coordinators create social opportunities like dances. It is met when Developmental Specialists coach parents on how to best support their little ones.

The World: Here, we deliberated several options: “The community,” “Butler County,” “Their world,” etc. We didn’t want to limit the space. The world is the limit. And that article, “the,” it’s an important one. The world that we’re trying to create access to is the same world we all live in. There is no our world and their world… it’s just the world: the whole wide word.

And so we’re excited to enter 2024 with a new focus: Actively partner with people to access the world.