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Serving the disability community
by Garrett Valenzuela
Dec 17, 2012 | 8483 views | 0 0 comments | 10 10 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Community leaders, in aiding people living with disabilities, are hosting a Disability Awareness and Resource Fair at Sparks Middle School Wednesday evening to provide services for disabled locals.
Community leaders, in aiding people living with disabilities, are hosting a Disability Awareness and Resource Fair at Sparks Middle School Wednesday evening to provide services for disabled locals.
SPARKS — The gym at Sparks Middle School Wednesday evening will take on a much different look as agencies and organizations aiding those with disabilities will fill the court with informational booths and recreational equipment designed to increase awareness of their services.

The Nevada Governor’s Council on Developmental Disabilities has partnered with Sparks Middle School, which will host a Disability and Resource Fair, or Partnering for Awareness and Community Education (P.A.C.E.) event. The fair, beginning at 5 p.m. Wednesday, will offer informational presentations and provide a chance to test out products for a variety of disabilities.

Billie Kale, project manager for the P.A.C.E. event, said housing disability aiding organizations under one roof benefits the community in a huge way.

“A lot of people don’t realize there are so many resources out there and that is where the awareness comes in,” Kale said. “I think it is very confusing for people to find who they need to go to or what kind of agency offers what type of services. To have everybody in one place, they can get as many questions as they have answered. It’s helpful for them to not have to navigate by themselves because we will have everybody here in one place.”

Kale said the event will feature a split of 15- to 20-minute presentations given on one half of the gym by disability resource agencies, and the other half of the gym will host the resource fair with more than 15 vendors.

Vicki Hardy, special education director at Sparks Middle School, said the event will help remove barriers for families dealing with disabled children and people seeking additional services throughout the region.

“The opportunity to do an event like this is amazing because so many of these families have questions and as a teacher I don’t have all the answers. So the collaboration is great,” she said.

Through the Nevada Department of Health and Human Services’ Immunization Program, free immunizations will be given to anyone in attendance of Wednesday’s event. Kathie Lloyd, immunization special projects manager, said the state’s Immunization Program works hard to help people living with disabilities and, with flu season underway, there is no time to waste in getting vaccinated.

“Individuals with disabilities and their family members often times don’t have the ability to go out and get the immunizations they need to stay physically healthy,” she said. “Looking at the info from the CDC it looks like it is going to be a big flu season and a lot of people think the flu is no big deal. More than 36,000 people die every year. That is not a small deal.”

A major advocate for people with disabilities is Family Ties of Nevada, an organization that serves children, youth and adults with special needs and disabilities. Executive Director Melanie Kauffman said the collaboration with Sparks Middle School proves constant efforts of teamwork for disabled persons.

“It also represents community partnerships and collaboration. We all work together in different ways and with the school districts and health agencies and it demonstrates that we are talking to each other and keeping track of our progress,” Kauffman said.

Disabilities such as hearing loss will also be targeted at Wednesday’s P.A.C.E. event from the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Advocacy Resource Center. Maureen Fradianni, supervisor for the northern Nevada region, said her agency will offer more than just information on services.

“Our program provides telecommunication equipment for deaf and hard of hearing people throughout the whole state of Nevada,” Fradianni said through a sign language interpreter Monday. “We also provide advocacy services because a lot of them are not aware of their legal rights. Right now we are serving about 400 to 500 between north and south parts of the state.”

Education will also be a major topic at the P.A.C.E. event and the newly expanded Buckley Education Group will be on site to provide help for students with disabilities.

“We focus on higher education and managing those needs. It changes so rapidly and to be able to constantly be a pulse on what’s happening out there and be able to get that information out to the families is so important,” Buckley Education Representative Alexandra Ellison said. “There are so many colleges now that are adding more resources for students with learning differences and it is important to get that information to those students.”

The City of Reno will also provide a chance for recreationally inclined people with disabilities to try out adaptive equipment to participate in sports and an active lifestyle. April Wolfe, therapeutic recreation specialist for the City of Reno, said the chance to test recreation equipment without having to buy it is reason enough to attend the event.

“The equipment is really expensive for somebody to go out and buy so if they want to come try the equipment for a weekend or a week and use it so they can recreate on their own time, we have equipment and programs for that,” Wolfe said.

The P.A.C.E event will be held from 5 to 7:30 p.m. Wednesday at Sparks Middle School in the gym. For more information call Vicki Hardy at 846-5306.
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