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Opinion - Working to ensure opportunity

To the Editor:

On July 26th we will mark the 27th anniversary of the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act by President George H.W. Bush. The ADA prohibits discrimination and works to ensure that people with disabilities have equal opportunities to live a fulfilling life.

On a local level, I want to thank our County Commissioners for their proclamation acknowledging this anniversary during their meeting on July 18th. Additionally, the County Commissioners presented a group of awards to some very deserving people and organizations. Dr. Kathy Koch of St. Mary’s College received the Volunteer Award for her work with the Lexington Park Volunteer Rescue Squad and development of nationally shared and published trainings on EMS procedures for people disabilities. Rob Plant of Elements Restaurant received the Notable Employer Award for inclusive hiring and community outreach. Mary Cheseldine received the Care Partner Award for her work as the Volunteer Coordinator at MedStar St. Mary’s Hospital and her inclusion of special needs volunteers throughout the program.

Community with a Cause received the Innovative Program Award for their fully inclusive church services and support to the People on the Go organization.  Lastly, the Vicki Brown Award is awarded to one Adult and one Youth with a disability who enjoy all aspects of life and serve as role models for others. The Adult recognized was Vincent Treglia, an employee of Weis and McDonalds and a Special Olympics athlete.  The Youth recognized was Morgan Slade, a Park Hall Elementary School 3rd grader who excels in academics, enjoys swimming and Minecraft, uses a manual wheelchair, and continually serves as a positive role model for her peers.

This annual awards program, which is organized by the St. Mary’s County Commission for People with Disabilities, began in 2008. These wonderful recipients help to make our county a wonderful place to live just by being who they are and living their lives to the fullest.  Over this next year, please think about who you know that might be deserving of one of these recognitions and consider submitting a nomination next spring!

Eric Colvin
Chair, St. Mary’s County Commission for People with Disabilities

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