Wyoming Developmental Disabilities Conference wants to build community

Published: Jun. 22, 2021 at 5:47 PM CDT
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CHEYENNE, Wyo. (Wyoming News Now) - The Wyoming Governor’s Council on Developmental Disabilities is marking its 32nd year of celebrating its big Developmental Disabilities Conference.

The pandemic meant the conference was held virtually in 2020. Still, Shannon Buller, the Executive Director of the Wyoming Governor’s Council on Developmental Disabilities, is happy to bring people together again this year.

“We’re really excited about that. Like I said, we’re a family, so it’s nice to bring that family back together when we haven’t been able to see each other for a while,” said Shannon Buller- Executive Director- WY Governors Council on Developmental Disabilities.

The conference, previously called MEGA, has been held all over Wyoming and this year, it is in Cheyenne.

The conference deals with transportation, health, recreation, leadership, education, vocational rehabilitation, advocacy, employment, and managing home and community-based funding. Professionals can also come in and do their PTSB teaching credits, which are for continuing education.

“We have speakers come in and talk about these different areas, and have that impact on people’s lives,” said Buller.

They show people with disabilities how to empower themselves. How to be advocates for choice. To become more of an integrated part of their community, instead of a bystander looking in.

Jeff Gardner, CEO of Magic City Enterprises and Executive Director of Wyoming Community Service, created a non-profit trade association supporting people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. He agrees the conference helps people live a quality life and find employment and social support.

“People with disabilities are part of the fabric of all of our communities. If you don’t know someone with a disability I would be very surprised,” said Gardner.

The conference brings together many partners, state and nation-wide, to speak on ways to improve people’s lives with developmental issues.

“People really want to come for the knowledge and expertise that we bring with our speakers...We like to really educate the community on all things disability.” said Aleyta Zimmerman- Projects Manager & Policy Analyst- Governors Council- Developmental Disabilities AND WY Able Administrator.

The conference is happening at the Red Lion Inn in Cheyenne with a pre-conference networking event on Wednesday, June 23, from 6 pm to 8 pm.

Then on Thursday, June 24, the conference will be in full swing with keynote speakers and activities from 7:45 am and ending with a “Bright Star” award ceremony and dance from 8 pm to 10 pm.

“As the DD council, we really hope to be that information, referral piece and that core center for information and referral. So, whether they come to the conference or not, or they come to our office, we try really hard to get them the resources that they need,” said Zimmerman.

The award ceremony is for people who do exceptional work in leadership, education, professions, and family members who do outstanding work in the community that affect the disability field. Friday, June 25, from 8:45 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., will finish with keynote speakers.

“Just having that satisfaction of being able to help people in my community that otherwise get looked over. The education piece for people with disabilities is so important for everyone in the community to know that people with disabilities are people too and that they can pretty much do anything that they set their minds to, you know just like anybody else,” said Zimmerman.

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