An inclusive event for first aiders in the region, the disabled community and all other citizens will premiere on Friday, August 6th in St. Albans.
The St. Albans Parks and Recreation Department, the St. Albans Fire Department, and the St. Albans On Purpose Project have teamed up to host the premier first-aid disability event. The activities take place on Friday from 5 to 8 p.m. in the loop in downtown St. Albans.
The event includes security vehicles for close inspection, along with speakers, vendors, giveaways for school supplies, and other attractions. An accessibility guide developed by local companies will be available. The Charleston sled hockey team will be on hand for people to see and try. Local vendors like Crafts of the Coal, Coal River Coffee, and Domino’s Pizza offer ice cream, pizza, and other goodies.
Buzz Browning from WWSA radio station St. Albans will host the event.
National Down Syndrome Society’s DS Ambassador and Champion of Change Award recipient Steve Slack will speak on Friday evening. Slack, a hurricane resident, received the NDSS award during the Advocacy Association’s 2018 Buddy Walk in Washington, as well as the DS Ambassador of the Year Award. He is the father of teenage self-advocate Sophie Slack and has authored several articles and columns on inclusion and disability rights. He was also a member of the NDSS Inclusive Education Task Force.
“Events like this provide an opportunity for first responders to meet and interact with people in their communities who may have different needs,” said Travis Miller, a local disability officer. “When you know each other, it is easier to feel good.”
“We have worked with the St. Albans On Purpose Project for the past several years and have seen an advantage from the perspective of first responders,” said St. Albans Fire Marshal Lt. Chris Collins.
“Often, first responders can interact with people with intellectual or physical disabilities without realizing it,” added Collins. “It can be things like autism; depending on what part of the spectrum they are in, and other intellectual disorders can sometimes cause them problems, such as: B. Difficulty interacting with other people.
“From the first aider’s point of view, we may not always understand what is going on, or we may not be sufficiently aware to recognize these things, that we may misinterpret someone as a potentially combative person. This could create problems that could be avoided if we had this information in advance.
“This type of awareness event allows us to gain some awareness of our side in an informal, non-emergency setting, and it benefits families and people with disabilities who can interact with us in the same relaxed, informal environment” said the fireman. “You can see what kind of uniforms and equipment we are using, as well as the strange noises and even some of the smells that come from an emergency situation. And we can give them tips on how to deal with first aiders to avoid misunderstandings.
“It depends on being able to communicate. Most of our job is communication, and events like this help with that, ”said Collins.
The event on Friday will also be overseen by St. Albans On Purpose founder and project manager Angie Breeden.
“The idea behind it is basically to build trust between the two communities,” explained Breeden. “For people with disabilities, the first or only encounter with a person in uniform can be an emergency or a traumatic experience. This is an opportunity for them to get to know each other in a non-emergency setting so that they can see that first responders are someone they can trust and for the first responders to enable them to become familiar with people with disabilities . People with disabilities are a heterogeneous group. The more first aiders they get to know, the more comfortable they feel.
“Our goal with the St. Albans On Purpose Project is that people with disabilities know that they belong to the community, and part of the community is access to first aiders,” said Breeden.
The St. Albans On Purpose Project was originally funded in 2019 by a grant from the West Virginia Developmental Disabilities Council. It was launched in October 2019.
Breeden said in a June 2020 Metro article that she developed the city’s inclusion program the year before based on personal experience. “I have children with disabilities and have done some advocacy work for the disabled,” the St. Albans resident said in the article. “I realized that one of the things that is missing in the disabled world is an additional aspect of the community. … There is much more to life than school and work; People want to get involved in their community. People with disabilities are citizens and it is good for them to be part of the community and to contribute in some way. “
The St. Albans On Purpose project partners plant and maintain flower beds across the city, along with several other civil society efforts to beautify the city.
The St. Albans Parks and Recreation Department worked with the St. Albans On Purpose Project to create an inclusive playground in St. Albans Roadside Park. The playground with wheelchair-accessible picnic tables and swing equipment is open once a month on Saturday morning for families in a play group.
The St. Albans On Purpose Project maintains accounts on the social media sites of Facebook and Instagram.