Highlighting Developmental Disabilities

By Director Barbara Palmer

Governor Ron DeSantis and the Florida Cabinet will officially declare March as Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month in Florida. Individuals have always been born with developmental disabilities (DD); however, society has only recently begun incorporating people with disabilities completely into everyday life. At the Agency for Persons with Disabilities (APD), our mission is to ensure those with DD have the same opportunities as anyone else to participate in their communities.

It is important to share the accomplishments that Floridians with developmental disabilities are achieving in our state. People with special abilities have much to offer and many are just waiting for the chance to shine.

Steven Graham is a wonderful example of how people can achieve great things when given the opportunity. For many years, Graham lived at a facility for individuals with the most severe behaviors located in Central Florida. The facility was closed in October 2018. The residents were relocated closer to their families throughout the state. APD connected the individuals with service providers to meet their needs in the community.

Graham began receiving services from Quest in Orlando working closely with a job coach. After many discussions, Graham decided to start his own small business making paracord bracelets. His business, called Steven by Design, has taken off and he is now earning money from his work.

Watch this short video (https://youtu.be/Z4rYIMks0Vw) of Steven Graham talking about his job journey.

Graham was also awarded a Micro-Enterprise Grant from RESPECT of Florida in August 2018 for his small business.

Providing employment opportunities for our customers is important so they can work toward self-sufficiency where possible. APD is excited about some proposed funding to help our clients.

In his A Bold Vision for a Brighter Future Budget, Governor DeSantis proposes $1.4 billion to serve Floridians with developmental disabilities. Some of the recommended investments include:

During this special month devoted to promoting the abilities of those APD serves, we hope the Legislature will support funding to meet the needs of our vulnerable citizens. When we work together for the benefit of all, we can fulfill the hopes and dreams of Floridians like Steven Graham.

Steven Graham making a paracord bracelet