The experience of the able-bodied and typically-functioning continues to serve as the baseline for much of the world in which we live. Those who fall outside that category have benefited from some progress, but there still exists a learning curve in discovering what both day-to-day and long-term life looks like.
This learning curve exists not only for those with disabilities, but also for their parents or caretakers. In Richland County, Parent Peer Support Specialist Sally Stigall is working to help parents navigate that learning curve.
“[The] goal is to help parents with all of the questions along their journey, that come with raising individuals with disabilities and or mental health concerns,” said Stigall.
In her role with the Richland County Board of Developmental Disabilities - known as Richland Newhope - Stigall is setting out to provide a steady stream of programming to help answer the questions that arise while raising a child with a disability. One such resource is a recurring parent-to-parent networking group, which will begin later this month.
“We wanted to start to bring parents together to start talking to each other about the issues and concerns that they have raising children with special needs and or mental health concerns,” Stigall explained.
For both Richland Newhope and Stigall, whose experiences from raising a daughter with a disability with her husband inspired her to begin working as a parent mentor, it was important that the group be a space for equal exchange of information rather than a support group structure where only one person shares information.
“Sometimes you get the best information from other parents who have similar situations, or are going through similar situations, or maybe are further along in the journey than you are or just starting the journey,” said Stigall.
In addition to the networking group, Stigall has planned topical sessions that help parents identify and understand specific resources relevant to their concerns. In October, she and Richland Newhope will be partnering with Attorney David S. Banas of Hickman & Lowder Co. to discuss the role of estate planning for parents of children with disabilities.
The session, Stigall explained, will allow parents of children with disabilities to better plan for the long term by learning about the legal and financial opportunities available to them. “Whether it be [planning] financially or in the event of our death, how is that going to look for our kids, for their future,” Stigall explained.
Then in November, she and Richland Newhope will host an event where speaker Gary Tonks, director of Ohio disability advocacy group The Arc of Ohio, will cover the basics of the Ohio Medicaid system and help parents understand home and community waivers.
Looking ahead, Stigall plans to maintain this balance between individual sessions and the recurring networking group, hoping to create a consistent and dependable source of resources and outlets for parents of children with disabilities.
“[What] we try to do is just provide opportunities for parents to find more resources to have more help, to make their journey a little bit easier,” Stigall said.
Stigall also hopes to not only facilitate information finding, but to also serve as a resource herself: “I'm a phone call away to help families navigate community support and resources.”
The Parent to Parent Networking Group will meet Sept. 25, the Estate Planning session will take place Oct. 9 and the Wonderful World of Waivers session will take place on Nov. 6.
For more information about the upcoming sessions or to reach out with other questions, you can contact Stigall at email@example.com or by calling 419-774-4260.