The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

Local and State News

April 4, 2014

Roar for more funding: Developmentally disabled rally set at Capitol on April 17

ENID, Okla. — People with developmental disabilities, their family members and advocates will “roar” for more funding and heightened awareness later this month.

On April 17, a crowd will gather on the state Capitol’s south steps for Developmental Disabilities Awareness Day.

Wanda Felty, a parent of a child with developmental disabilities, said the state government shouldn’t expect a tame crowd. The “roar” references pop-musician Katy Perry’s song of the same name.

One voice is a whisper, but many become a roar, the philosophy goes.

“We are encouraging self-advocates, family members and those who support people with developmental disabilities to band together for the cause, and Katy Perry’s song ‘Roar’ fits our advocacy,” Felty said. “We are encouraging people to first call and then invite their legislators to attend, and we will also ask them to speak at our rally. We will also feature a surprise event designed to capture the public’s attention about our cause.”

Felty coordinates the Developmental Disabilities Services Waiting List meetings and website content. The waiting list contains the names of the nearly 7,000 Oklahomans who are seeking services from the Developmental Disabilities Services Division of Oklahoma’s Department of Human Services. Some of the people have been waiting as long as eight years.

According to the agency, DDS provided state-funded or Medicaid-financed services to 9,128 individuals with developmental and intellectual disabilities last year.

That includes the last clients at Northern Oklahoma Resource Center of Enid and its sister facility in Pauls Valley. The Southern Oklahoma Resource Center is expected to close this year as residents are moved out of the institutions and into private homes. NORCE was announced to close in 2015.

"We're not closing the doors on either institution until everyone is placed in their community of choice," DHS spokeswoman Kevan Goff-Parker said.

Additional funding is needed to serve people on the waiting list, the agency said. Last year, Gov. Mary Fallin and the state Legislature approved $1 million to help address the waiting list.

The rally will begin at 10 a.m. on April 17 — a Thursday. DHS Director Ed Lake will make opening remarks, as will various members of the Oklahoma House. Members scheduled to speak include House Speaker Jeff Hickman, R-Fairview, House Democratic leader Scott Inman, D-Del City, and several others.

DDS Director JoAnne Goin and other state dignitaries also will make remarks.

An accessible entrance is located on the southeast corner of the Capitol building near the south steps.

For information about Developmental Disabilities Awareness Day or Developmental Disabilities Services, email kevan.goffparker@okdhs.org or call (405) 301-6676.

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