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August 2016

West Virginia

WV AgrAbility staff attended the RESNA (Rehabilitation Engineering and Assistive Technology Society of North America) Conference held in Arlington, VA, July 11-14th. This year's conference theme was "Promoting Access Assistive Technology." The conference highlighted new technologies in seating and mobility, universal design and environmental accommodations, electronic aids to daily living, assessment and evaluation of assistive technology, and best practices when recommending assistive technology. The conference also offered a developers' forum, interactive poster sessions, and student design competitions in addition to the instructional courses and workshops. This year's conference offered an opportunity to visit Capitol Hill to educate Congress about the critical role that assistive technology plays in advancing community living and improving the health and well-being of people with disabilities.

A luncheon was held to celebrate AgrAbility's 25-year anniversary. Words of support and reflection were provided by speakers Lanon Baccam, USDA Deputy Under Secretary for Farm and Foreign Agricultural Services and Military Veterans Agricultural Liaison; Bradley Rein, Director, Division of Agricultural Systems, USDA-NIFA; Maria Town, Associate Director for the White House Office of Public Engagement; and a farmer panel telling their stories of how AgrAbility assisted them with their agricultural operations.

Youth and young adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities attended a summer day program held by The Arc of the Mid-Ohio Valley from June 13-July 8, 2016. Inclusion in the community was a key goal of the summer programs. The social, recreational, and educational activities scheduled are chosen based on whether or not the experience would enable participants to interact with typically developing youth their own age, as opposed to segregating the participants with disabilities in programs or locations by themselves.

WV AgrAbility staff provided two trainings during the Summer Day Program. Healthy relationships and disability awareness were the topics of the first training. Staff discussed how having healthy relationships is good for your body just like eating healthy foods. This tied into the second training conducted on gardening for fun. Participants planted tomato plants and were taught how to care for the plants and then were shown a mature plant with fruit. Ergonomic gardening tools were used by many of the participants. Fifteen individuals attended the Healthy Relationships and Disability Awareness training and 23 individuals and their parents or assistants attend the Gardening for Fun training.

Submitted by Tiffany Salamone