What do you get when you put a group of people together who laugh at their own jokes, cheer one another on, champion the strengths and abilities of others, believe inclusion is the hallmark of a good life, and are just generally crazy smart and talented?
You get the Good Life Ambassadors (GLAs), your hosts for OCALICONLINE 2021, and soon-to-be new favorite people.
Working out of the Cuyahoga County Board of Developmental Disabilities, the Good Life Ambassadors are dedicated to educating and inspiring the local community on an assortment of topics that promote inclusion and the full participation of people with disabilities in community life. The OCALICONLINE planning team spotted them during another event, and we knew immediately we wanted to put them front-and-center of this year's conference. Once you see them in action for yourself, we think you'll see why.
Join the Good Life Ambassadors each morning of the conference and during the breaks as they help you navigate the ins and outs of the conference. You'll also learn more about their ongoing work, doings, and interests.
And don't be surprised if they remind you of just how good life is.
Grace Blatt has been a Good Life Ambassador for the Cuyahoga County Board of Developmental Disabilities since the creation of the role in 2016. She advocates and promotes the acceptance and embracement of people on the autism spectrum, as well as all people with disabilities. Grace hopes to attain a PhD in neuroscience and is currently attending Cleveland State University in pursuit of a major in psychology and a minor in neuroscience. She hopes to go into the research field and study movement disorders such as Parkinson’s disease. Grace has faced many challenges and triumphs, all of which have given her the ability to articulate and share these experiences in order for others to gain a better understanding of people on the autism spectrum and those with disabilities.
Will is a self-advocate and serves as an inspiration to others who desire to live independently. He enjoys discussing the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the latest in legislation and encourages others to build relationships with their elected officials. Will has worked for the Cuyahoga County Board of Developmental Disabilities as a Good Life Ambassador for the past five years. In addition to advocating, Will has played boccia for seven years. He enjoys taking hikes at the Cleveland Metroparks and hanging out with friends. He recently started learning adaptive hand-cycling and looks forward to learning other adaptive sports in the future. Will also enjoys listening to old school music, especially Paul Simon/Simon and Garfunkel.
Patrick recently joined the team as a Good Life Ambassador for the Cuyahoga County Board of Developmental Disabilities in 2021. He enjoys writing poems and developed his passion for writing at the age of 13. Family and friends refer to Patrick as an "excellent teacher." When asked what it takes to be a strong self-advocate, he responded, "...to always be positive, ready to talk to people and be ready for anything. You must have a big heart! Make your audience think, Wow! Make them believe in themselves that they can be a better person."
Shaye is one of the newest member of the Good Life Ambassadors for the Cuyahoga County Board of Developmental Disabilities. Shaye enjoys sports and singing. She is a Special Olympics figure skater competitor and has performed the Star Spangled Banner at four Cleveland Indians games. When asked what it takes to be a strong self-advocate, she responded, "It takes a lot of courage and audacity to be a self-advocate. You have to understand the role of a self-advocate is to promote the inclusion of people with developmental disabilities (DD) and teach people about being neurotypical."
Sean is a strong, energetic, young man that enjoys sports and work. When Sean is not working one of his three part-time jobs, you can find him somewhere watching a sports game or reading up on the latest statistics related to people with developmental disabilities. With a degree from Wright State University in organizational leadership, Sean finds pleasure analyzing data and applying it to real-life situations. His insight on integration and inclusion has proven to be invaluable to stakeholders and community members. Sean has worked for the Cuyahoga County Board of Developmental Disabilities as a Good Life Ambassador for the past four years.