CP State Affiliates present results of rural outreach grant

A group of four people posing and a tall man standing in front of a screen that reads Rural Outreach and Advocacy.

Top, L-R: Tia Levinson (CP Westchester), Scott Robinson and Barbara Pettengill (CFDS), and Angela Marmet (Upstate CP). Bottom: CP State’s Tim Ferguson presents to the DDPC Council.

CP State Affiliates recently presented to the NYS Developmental Disabilities Planning Council the outcomes of a 3-year DDPC grant for rural outreach and advocacy.

CP State’s Tim Ferguson, who administered the grant, explained to the council how CP State is a model partner to share and develop resources with the DDPC for rural outreach and advocacy.

“Overall, the goals of our organization are devoted to both direct care and advocacy for all individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities within all demographics statewide,” Ferguson said, noting the majority of CP Affiliates provide services to rural communities, and in some cases those in the Upstate region have a footprint that includes multiple counties. “It is a strong initiative of each affiliate, but especially those serving remote areas to provide the care, transportation and quality of life programming to those with limited access to these resources.”

Barbara Pettengill and Scott Robinson from the Center for Disability Services highlighted the We the People initiative that trains and empowers self-advocates. Now in its third year, some of the self-advocates trained at the onset are peer trainers themselves.

Upstate CP’s Angela Marmet noted that many individuals served at UCP took part in the We the People training, as well as a course on individual advocacy taught by Teena Fitzroy.

Tia Levinson, of CP Westchester, and Dan Lukens, of Jawonio, have been integral in the State of Expression art program that has connected artists with disabilities throughout the state. Hundreds were able to experience the fruit of this effort at the 2022 CP State Conference, and through Zoom presentations, virtual meetups, and social media, the thriving community of artists continues to grow.

Camaraderie and collaboration between agencies throughout this grant became an invaluable, especially for smaller agencies who have less resources and less staff. Learning, engaging with and collaborating with individuals with I/DD and staff members from across the state and from different backgrounds taught significant lessons and allowed groups to work together more efficiently, especially virtually.

Prior to the grant, programs across the state, especially in rural areas, were isolated. Participants, families and staff struggled to connect and collaborate outside of their region and agency. While the grant program was intended to be in-person, having the program run virtually brought the agencies and programs together statewide.