erik herbert.jpg

Erik Herbert

The 27th annual Developmental Disabilities Awareness Day will be held at the Conference and Event Center Niagara Falls from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. 

The conference brings together people with developmental disabilities and their families with experts from provider agencies and local officials to explore the latest issues in the field. Professionals from various area agencies that specialize in services for people with developmental disabilities and similar health-related industries will be on hand to provide guidance, literature and general information about services the organizations provide.

The event has long been a staple of the Western New York developmentally disabled community, bringing together local and regional agencies, industry connected vendors and suppliers, direct support professionals, the academic community and the individuals that all of these groups support. The conference is the largest one of its kind in the United States and has been growing bigger and more sophisticated with every year.

The opening keynote presentation will be “Taking the 'Dis' Out of Disability” by Dr. Paul S. Wichansky who leads Anti-Bullying & Peer Leadership assemblies, is a meteorologist and Ph.D. from Rutgers University. Wichansky’s keynote provides an insightful and deeply personal introspective of his own experiences growing up with cerebral palsy, while allowing audiences to immediately bridge the gap that seems to separate "normal" from "disabled" within their own lives. His life story remains an important reminder of the possibilities when one learns to focus their motivation, enabling them to achieve goals in their lives.

Each year several awards including, Award for Personal Achievement, Direct Service Provider of the Year, Community Service of the Year and Caregiver of the Year are presented at the conference’s luncheon. These awards are presented to professionals, organizations and individuals with developmental disabilities.

Organizers say the event is fun for the whole family with attractions and festivities including an art gallery featuring this year’s winning logo design, a performance area with various performers including music, poetry and dance, an agency and vendor fair, parent corner and concessions.

 The conference runs from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Thursday, at the Conference & Event Center Niagara Falls, 101 Old Falls St. Tickets are available at in three levels, workshop and luncheon ($32), luncheon only ($20), and workshop/fair only tickets ($12) are also available. There are more than 200 free scholarship tickets available for people who qualify.

Recommended for you