Holmes Board of DD blesses us all


With the beginning of March comes one of my favorite monthly celebrations, National Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month.

I truly believe Holmes County has been blessed with one of the finest Board of DD facilities, not only in the state, but in the nation, although I am quite certain I haven’t seen them all by a very long shot.

I guess my belief lies in the fact that I think there can’t be better facilities because what we have been blessed with goes beyond the building and its programs. What makes this organization so special is the people who dedicate themselves to serving others in such a meaningful capacity every day.

Anyone who has spent time within the walls of the building, witnessed any of the community programs, watched a Holmes County Bucks game or enjoyed the enormous playground, which by the way is open to the public any time, certainly understands the love and beauty surrounding that facility.

My earliest days of connecting with the BDD came not through my job as a journalist, but rather as a parent.

All three of my sons attended preschool there, where typicals were mixed into classrooms with atypicals, although I’ve never liked that terminology. Both terms refer to points of development, and I get that, but I never liked the differentiation.

Fortunately, the two stories I am about to share speak volumes as to why there are no atypicals, only people.

My wife and I took our middle son Alec to the training center for his initial venture into preschool at the Holmes County Training Center, as it was known back then some 20-plus years ago. We knew how great his time there was going to be because our eldest son Neil had already been through the preschool process there and it had been a wonderful experience.

We had talked to Alec about how the typical and atypical kids would all be in the same room together and reminded him that everyone was there to learn, grow and respect one another.

His preschool experience began, and he faithfully and joyfully looked forward to attending preschool, where he loved to play and really liked his teachers.

About a week into his experience, we were driving home from school, and he was talking about the day, and I won’t ever forget the words that came out of his mouth.

During the conversation he said, “You know, you said there were going to be typical and atypical kids in my class, but I don’t think they put any atypical kids in mine.”

A young child’s profound words struck me in the heart.

He didn’t see differences; he only saw other kids.

He didn’t view anyone as being any different than himself. They were all just kids, going to preschool to learn stuff and have fun playing together.

My heart soared.

My eyes teared up.

If only we as adults could have that childlike vision today, we would be in a much better place as a world.

The second story comes from another moment in time, this one with my wife’s second-grade class at Millersburg Elementary.

During National Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month, the HCBDD sends its members out to elementary school classrooms, to share, to read or talk through communication devices, to play choir bells or sing.

A few years back, Charlie and some others came to Millersburg Elementary, where they did some of the aforementioned activities. When it was Charlie’s turn, the young man who had been eerily quiet most of the time stood and sang.

Out came this amazing soprano voice, the beauty of which I can’t fairly describe.

The children listening were enraptured.

They didn’t expect this amazing voice to come out of a young man who said nothing the whole time they were there.

Afterward, back in their classroom, my wife relayed to me what her kids had experienced, and one common theme became apparent.

“Was that his real voice? Was that really Charlie singing? That was beautiful.”

I guess because of my faith, I believe that someday Charlie and many like him who have had their gifts seemingly trapped inside of them here on earth will one day have those gifts unwrapped in heaven.

Much like those little children who were in awe of Charlie’s talent, his gilded voice will join a multitude of others, and their song will waft through the heavenly realm with loud bravado.

I guess the way I see it, when these little, seemingly insignificant moments pass by and we are blessed by them, God is presenting us with a little glimpse of heaven.

My heart soared when Alec shared his thoughts.

I’m overjoyed each time Charlie and others share their gifts.

These are feelings I wish all of us could experience throughout each day.

Hopefully, we can have the joy of DDAM fill our hearts not only this March, but also 12 months a year.

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