In the news

Board of DD celebrates 50 years

By Steven Collins, Circleville Herald
Published Friday, August 11, 2017

The Pickaway County Board of Developmental Disabilities celebrates its 50th year as an organization in 2017, coming a long way from a single humble school to the network of programming it has today.

Fannie Brooks and Mary May Yates established the Pickaway County Board of Developmental Disabilities in 1967. The program began as Brooks-Yates School and offered the first education services for students of Pickaway County with developmental disabilities. Pat Sullivan, service and support administrator, who has served with the board of developmental disabilities for 39 years. noted how locations have changed over time.

"I go back to 1978, and back then the school was on [state Route] 104 going towards Chillicothe, and we had the workshop," he said. ''The workshop is where the Good Hands Habilitation Center is now on Island Road. The school at that time was heated by coal."

Sullivan said in those days, there were maybe 40 to 50 students served by the board.

''The big change from then to now is, there were no options," he said. "You could either go to the workshop or you could go to the school or you could stay home."

Mike Pelcic, current superintendent for the last six years and 34 total years in the field, said since those beginnings the core mission hasn't changed but it's grown, as society has become more accepting and welcoming of those with disabilities.

"The mission has grown and it's been tweaked a little bit." he said. "Society has changed and we have learned and evolved but the mission that is the basic concept has always been the same."

Pelcic said now the goal is to have those people who go through the board become happy and productive members of the community. "In the early years, it was really filling the gaps so that people would have some basic opportunities, like an education," he said. "Then it moved towards employment, and now it's the complete picture so people do live and enjoy life much like anyone else with the same opportunities."

As part of that, Sullivan noted that then, only a few people had Medicaid waivers, but now the board is doing much more.

"We're now serving over 400 people," he said. “I think the whole reason the school was started was there were individuals that the public schools, at that time, couldn't serve. That's why Mrs. Brooks and Mrs. Yates started the school, so those individuals could get some schooling."

"The big thing these days it seems is things have gone full circle," he said. "I think Mrs. Brooks and Mrs. Yates would be pleased it's back in the public schools now."

Pelcic noted the challenges of the last 50 years are the same at their root. and he believes they'll continue to be those challenges in the next 50 yea rs. "Over the last 50 years the county board has evolved when you think about services and supports we provide for people," he said. "But the root has always been the same, to help people live, learn and work, and be involved in the community. As we evolved, the community has been more accepting and welcoming with people of disabilities, and our initiatives and our services have changed and grown."

"The next 50 years, it will be the same," he said. 'We'll continue to press forward. Many of the attitude barriers have been eliminated. There is some hesitation with employers and community members of what people are capable of doing, but we've done a good job of dispelling all those perceptions and misinformation."

Sullivan said things have changed but in positive ways, and he couldn't be happier.

"Things have changed for the good," he said. "I'm thrilled and I love what I do here, even going on 40 years, almost."

This article has been reproduced for educational purposes only and appeared in the Circleville Herald. The original story can be found at:

Send this page to a friend