Park City, emotionally, readies program for people with developmental disabilities | ParkRecord.com

Park City, emotionally, readies program for people with developmental disabilities

Liza Howell, a parent of a 14-year-old son who has developmental disabilities, attended a Park City Council meeting on Thursday.

Howell, a group of other parents of children with developmental disabilities and several educators were at the Marsac Building as Mayor Andy Beerman and the Park City Council indicated they support the creation of a City Hall pilot program that is meant to offer municipal employment opportunities to those with disabilities. It was a discussion that was emotional at moments and, at other times, appeared to be gratifying as those involved comprehended the possibilities for people in the area with developmental disabilities.

Howell said in an interview afterward she was pleased with City Hall's efforts to create a program. She said a program will be a step toward "making Park City more inclusive of everybody."

"As a parent, sometimes you feel really alone thinking about your kid's future," she said, adding, "There's not many opportunities waiting for our kids."

The appearance of Howell and the other parents was one of the highlights of what was a brief but important discussion about the pilot program. City Hall is pursuing a wide-ranging social equity platform meant to ensure inclusiveness within the municipal ranks and the broader community.

The creation of a pilot program for people with developmental disabilities addresses a segment of the population that typically has not been a critical factor of municipal discussions. The social equity efforts have more often dwelled on Latino issues or topics related to senior citizens. The City Council endorsement of a pilot program was expected as the elected officials continue to press the ideals of social equity. The program is anticipated to cost between $20,000 and $30,000.

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City Hall staffers involved in the pilot program intend to talk to individual municipal departments about what sorts of posts could be filled through a program. Staffers also expect to talk to the parents of people with developmental disabilities who will participate in the program as roles are crafted. City Manager Diane Foster said the program will likely be launched in March or April. She said the Human Resources Department will be involved in a support role.

The mayor and City Council did not hold an extensive discussion as they expressed support for a program. City Councilor Nann Worel was one of the elected officials in support. She became emotional in her brief comments.

"It really touched my heart," Worel said.

Steve Joyce, another member of the City Council, suggested municipal posts be found that fit the people who will fill them.

A City Hall report drafted in anticipation of the meeting on Thursday described a pilot program that could cover between eight and 15 hours per week for each of the people who will participate. The report, as examples, listed a post as a transit host on the mobility bus and a childcare spot as possibilities. The elected officials on Thursday were told someone involved in the program could be assigned the duty of securing wheelchairs on the mobility bus.

The elected officials are expected to continue the talks about a pilot program at a meeting on Dec. 11. The City Council at that meeting could adjust the municipal budget to reflect the creation of a program.