NH Council on Developmental Disabilities Recognizes Advocates
On Thursday, December 9th – Carrie Duran, Senator Rebecca Whitley, Representative Wendy Chase, and the Nature Conservancy in New Hampshire were recognized for their advocacy by the NH Council on Developmental Disabilities (DD Council) at their 2021 Winter Awards Ceremony.
Carrie Duran received the Virginia Bowden (VB) Award. Each year this award is given to someone who showcases leadership, and commitment to dignity, equal rights, and full participation of people with disabilities in our state. The recipient of this award exemplifies these values in both their career, and day-to-day life. Carrie, who is the Legislative Liaison at Lakes Region Community Services and has a 10-year-old daughter with Down syndrome, knows what topics are important to those with disabilities and their families. Co-chairperson for the Family Support Council, Board Member for Northern Human Services, and member of the DD Council are just some of her current roles. Carrie said, “As a parent and an advocate you have more power than you know,” and encouraged all to contact legislators and be involved with groups in your community to make change happen.
[Carrie Duran, photo from Lakes Region Community Services website]
Rebecca Whitley (district 15 senator) and Wendy Chase (district 18 representative) received the Outstanding Legislators of the Year award. The DD Council gives this award to legislators who consider those with disabilities and their families when making decisions. Rebecca has supported legislation related to Supported Decision-Making (SDM), a less restrictive alternative to guardianship, mental health services for children, and publicly accessible recreation areas. Wendy is also a supporter of SDM because of the choice it gives to individuals with disabilities. Earlier this year, a bill regarding SDM was signed into law and Wendy was the prime sponsor – “the state’s adoption of this important alternative to guardianship is a recognition that the autonomy of adults with disabilities should only be limited if absolutely necessary. Supported Decision-Making agreements can provide an alternative for families who wish to remain involved in the lives of their loved ones with disabilities without diminishing the freedom to make choices about their own lives,” Wendy said.
[Rebecca Whitley, photo from BeckyWhitley.com and Wendy Chase, photo from Gencourt.state.nh.us]
The Nature Conservancy in New Hampshire was recognized for their work in improving our state’s accessibility. Ossipee Pine Barrens was the first trail the organization focused on, and just this fall, a universally accessible trail was completed at Manchester Cedar Swamp. Mark Zankel, State Director of Nature Conservancy in New Hampshire, said “a critical part of our mission is connecting people to nature in meaningful ways” and “this trail helps us expand this part of our mission, reaching out to include all abilities and all ages, giving more people a chance to discover and enjoy our state’s natural beauty.” He highlighted that spending time in nature improves one’s physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing and nobody should be left out when it comes to enjoying nature.
[Photo from The Nature Conservancy in New Hampshire Facebook page]
Congratulations to all of this year’s award recipients, and thank you to the New Hampshire Council on Developmental Disabilities for highlighting advocates throughout our state. If you would like to learn more about the DD Council, visit their website, and Facebook page.