Connie Mehlman • Cassie Mattia • Courtney Hineman
by Cassie Mattia

Loveland, Ohio – Did you know more than 6 million Americans have one or more developmental disabilities (DD)? That means about 15 percent of the United States population is living with DD. Over the few past decades, individuals with DD and DD advocates have been fighting for inclusion and equal opportunities within their communities and the workforce. Without help from leaders and social reformers like Dorothy Dix, Helen Keller, Eleanor Roosevelt, Martin Luther King Jr., Ronald Reagan, and George Bush, to name a few, both National Developmental Disabilities Month and the Americans with Disabilities Act wouldn’t exist.

“It’s just basic human needs not special needs.”Courtney Hineman

In 1987, President Ronald Reagan made a public announcement asking Americans to provide individuals with DD “the encouragement and opportunities they need to lead productive lives and to achieve their full potential.” Reagan’s powerful message not only established the month of March as National DD Awareness Month, but his advocacy also led to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) being passed in 1990 by George Bush. The ADA officially made it illegal to discriminate against individuals with disabilities.

Once the ADA passed, DD advocates across the world began to take a stand, using their own experiences and success stories to promote equal rights. Although progress has been made in the DD community there are still many obstacles’ individuals with DD face every day. This is why National DD Awareness Month is a time to celebrate the achievements of those with DD and take the time to educate yourself and those surrounding you on the importance of including individuals with DD in all aspects of community life!

In light of this very special March celebration, I decided to invite two of the most respected DD advocates in Ohio, Community Connection Coordinator Connie Mehlman and Community Outreach Advocate Courtney Hineman, both with the Butler County Board of Developmental Disabilities to my Loveland Magazine TV Table of Discussions! Connie and Courtney have paved the way for inclusion and equality within the DD community giving them both a plethora of knowledge when it comes to educating others about how they too can advocate for individuals with DD.

I am pleased to present my latest Table of Discussions episode featuring Connie Mehlman and Courtney Hineman! Happy DD Awareness Month!

Check out Episode 1 of Courtney’s BCBDD VLOG, “Courtney Explains It All!”

The video below features Courtney as she discusses Neurodiversity with the BCBDD staff!

Below Courtney was invited to be the keynote speaker at the Best Buddies Ohio Annual Gala!

In celebration of National Developmental Disabilities Month, Courtney wrote an Opinion Editorial about what it’s like to live with developmental disabilities and how the community created equal opportunities for her.

Click here to read Courtney’s Op Ed, “I want others with disabilities to have opportunities like I had!”

The gallery of photos below was provided by the Butler County Board of DD and Cassie Mattia.

Courtney Hineman is a disability rights advocate. She is the Community Outreach Advocate at the Butler County Board of Developmental Disabilities and was appointed by Governor DeWine to the Ohio Developmental Disabilities Council for the second term. She is a member of Butler County’s self-advocacy group, SpeakUp, and has enjoyed participating in Best Buddies.

Connie Mehlman is the Community Connections Coordinator for the Butler County Board of Developmental Disabilities. She has more than 35 years of experience both working and volunteering in the field of intellectual and developmental disabilities. She is currently serving as the Chairperson for Best Buddies Ohio and is very active in the Miami University Best Buddies Chapter.

Columnist Cassie Mattia is a resident of Historic Downtown Loveland and the Public Relations Coordinator at Butler County Board of DD. Cassie was awarded the Little Miami River Chamber Alliance 2021 Young Business Professional of the Year. She is the President and Publisher of Loveland Magazine.

The Butler County | Board of Developmental Disabilities supports over 3,700 people to live, work and learn successfully in their community. Supports and services are available life-long through contracts with partner agencies or directly provided by our Board. Much of our services go beyond the walls of our facilities and take place in the community. The Board’s supports are geared toward the philosophy of person-centered thinking, which places the individual at the center of decisions made about the services they receive. We are committed to helping people determine their dreams and helping to make those dreams come true. 

Hamilton County Developmental Disabilities Services (HCDDS) is a government social services agency established by state law. For more than 50 years, HCDDS has provided educational, vocational, and residential support and services to thousands of individuals with developmental disabilities (DD). Each year, we support approximately 7,300 people with intellectual and developmental disabilities throughout their lives, from babies through seniors, by providing case management, monitoring service quality, and funding services provided by our community partners.

The Warren County Board of Developmental Disabilities provides services and supports to over 2,000 people in Warren County who have developmental disabilities. The mission of the board is supporting people with disabilities and their families to achieve what is important to them. The Board employs 127 people in full and part time positions. We operate out of five locations in Warren County, and have an annual budget of $25,014,619.00. More than 65% of our revenue is derived from local levy funds.

The mission of the Clermont County Board of Developmental Disabilities is to help those we serve expand capabilities and navigate the possibilities. Our Vision We envision a culture comprised of inclusive communities where people with disabilities thrive and live a life on their own terms. Individuals and families served by the Clermont County Board of DD have the right of choice and flexibility regarding what, how and where services are provided.  Individuals and families will be empowered to make decisions, become partners and work cooperatively with professionals, and exert control over the services provided to them.

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