Eryn Sanders, Rural Outreach Coordinator for The Ability Center of Greater Toledo –Ottawa Office, was awarded the APRIL Linda Gonzalez Award at the National APRIL Conference.
The Association of Programs for Rural Independent Living (APRIL) is a national grass roots, consumer controlled, non-profit membership organization consisting of Centers for Independent Living, their satellites and branch offices, state-wide Independent Living Councils, other organizations and individuals concerned with the independent living issues of people with disabilities living in rural America. APRIL hosts an annual conference in rural parts of the country each year. Participants and presenters from all over the United States attend to talk about the impact of rural issues for people with disabilities living in rural America. Each year, at the national APRIL conference, the APRIL Board awards the Linda Gonzales Award to a person who has made a significant impact in rural youth issues. This year Eryn Sanders was honored, receiving the award for her impact on community partnerships in the six rural Counties the Ability Center serves.
In 2012, Eryn took on the role of developing community partnerships with organizations that provide services to youth in the communities, specifically Wood County 4-H, Ottawa County 4-H, Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts. Eryn made it her mission to ensure these organizations include all youth, with and without disabilities, in their programming. Throughout the past year, through the relationships she has developed, she has opened many eyes to the possibilities and positive outcomes of having inclusive programs.
Working closely with the 4-H in Wood County, Eryn began by creating and facilitating workshops to teach inclusion to directors, leaders and staff. She then worked with Camp Palmer’s 4-H summer camp counselors and staff, in Fayette, to make the camp accessible for anyone who utilizes the Camp Palmer facilities. As a result of her work, over 60 youth with disabilities, including 27 new young people, were able to attend Camp Palmer and be included in all its programs.
Eryn’s efforts and impact at Camp Palmer and at the various organizations with whom she worked, has spread to state level programs and many more local organizations. Today she is actively seeking organizations and programs in the Northwest Ohio area wanting to learn more about inclusion and about the impact of including all people. If you are interested in learning more about inclusion or would like to talk to Eryn about what she can bring to your organization, program, club, etc., please contact her at The Ability Center of Greater Toledo-Ottawa Office (located at the Sutton Center) 419.734.0330.
Additionally, Eryn was named The Ability Center’s Employee of the Year. She will be honored at the January meeting of the Board of Trustees.