Wednesday, January 04, 2017
More than 10 years after it was first suggested and five months after its authorization by the Representative Town Meeting (RTM), the Westport Commission on People with Disabilities became a reality today with appointment of its members.
First Selectman Jim Marpe said the head of the group would be James Ross, a sight-impaired Westporter who formerly headed the Citizens Transit Committee, which was established in 2012.
Six other Westport residents, including persons with disabilities, advocates, caregivers and professionals, have been appointed, too. They are: Marina Derman, Diane Johnson, Stacie Curran, LuAnn Giunta, Tom Holleman, and Evan Levinson. Marpe said that the Human Services Department will provide staff support.
The RTM authorized establishment of the committee last July. (See WestportNow July 19, 2016).
The idea for a disabilities commission took root in 2007 when the Community Inclusion Task Force, which had been appointed by the Health & Human Services Commission and the Westport Weston United Way, issued its final report.
According to Marpe, the commission’s mission is to ensure that Westport is a town where people with disabilities “have the opportunity and support to enjoy full and equal access to lives of independence, productivity, inclusion and self-determination.”
“With approximately 20 percent of our town’s population directly affected by their own or a family member’s disability, the commission will serve as a resource to raise community awareness and to serve as a forum for community discussion on issues affecting people with disabilities and their families.,” Marpe said.
“It will also be a source for identifying barriers and advocating change where there are opportunities to improve access and participation in the life of our community.
“I want to thank the commissioners for their important service as well as thanking the many other Westporters who indicated their interest in serving on the commission,” he added. “I look forward to many positive outcomes from the work of the commission.”
The commission’s first meeting is scheduled for Thursday, Jan. 19, at 8:30 a.m. in Town Hall Room 201. Thereafter, the commission will hold its regularly scheduled meetings on the third Thursday of each month at 8:30 a.m. All meetings are open to the public.
This story has been updated to add Diane Johnson to the names of new commissioners. She was inadvertently omitted from the original story.
Posted 01/04/17 at 09:57 AM
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