COLUMBUS — Ohio House Representative Jeff Rezabek has received the Ohio Public Images Award of Merit in the Community/Elected Official category for his contributions supporting the Preble County Board of Developmental Disabilities (PCBDD) and the individuals it supports. In his first term serving Ohio’s 43rd District, Rezabek has shown his support for PCBDD in a variety of ways. He received the recognition during the Ohio Public Images Annual Awareness Awards luncheon in Columbus in March.
“I am proud and honored to receive this award from OPI,” Rezabek said. “I want to thank everyone at the Preble County Board of DD for their continued support. I truly enjoy volunteering and supporting the important work and projects that PCBDD does.”
Rezabek and Ohio Senator Bill Beagle were instrumental in developing language for the 2015 Ohio State Budget regarding the PLAY Project. PLAY (Play and Language for Autistic Youngsters) is a program designed for children with autism and provides training to parents and educators. It is an evidence-based autism early intervention program.
“Preble County residents should be proud of the work that PCBDD does to support individuals with developmental disabilities,” Rezabek said. “They touch many lives in a positive way and I am very happy that I was able to contribute to their continued success through the PLAY Project.”
In 2015, PCBDD Superintendent Diane Knupp, who nominated Rezabek for the award, wrote a letter to the representative and to Beagle asking for their support at the state level. In short, the letter stated “Preble County is committed to the intervention techniques. We have personally witnessed the growth in our children and believe we will reduce educational and long-term service needs through our early intervention with children.”
To learn more about the project, Knupp and Play Project consultants Diana Holderman and Katie Kurtz met with Rezabek, Beagle and Ohio Republican Party State Central Committee (5th District) member Stephanie Garrett, who also serves on the Governor’s Council on People with Disabilities. Together, they witnessed the progress of Preble County children involved in PLAY and took their findings to Ohio Gov. John Kasich. On June 30, 2015, Kasich signed the budget bill into law and it included funding to teach the PLAY Project in Preble County.
PCBDD has received overwhelming positive feedback from professionals and families involved in the program. Becky Hampton, Early Intervention specialist for PCBDD, has found the training and intervention strategies to be valuable and the model to be practical and effective. Parents have told the agency how much the program has changed their relationship with their child and has helped their child to grow.
Additionally, Eaton Community Schools, National Trail School District, Preble Shawnee Preschool and the Preble County alternative school have partnered with PCBDD to move PLAY Project into the kindergarten classrooms.
One OPI judge noted that “collaboration is the key to success and it is evident here that the work between Rep. Rezabek and the Preble County Board of DD is proving to be successful for everyone involved.”
Knupp said the goal of PLAY Project is to reach as many children and families as possible.
“Thanks to the diligent work of Rep. Rezabek, Senator Beagle and Stephanie, we feel Preble County is ahead of the curve when it comes to implementing the PLAY Project in homes and classrooms,” she said.
For more information about PLAY, contact the Preble County Board of DD at 937-456-5891.
Celebrating this year’s theme “What’s Your Story?” OPI promotes positive perceptions and understanding of people with developmental disabilities (www.publicimagesnetwork.org).
Reach Corey at the Preble County Board of DD at 937-456-5891.