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Developmental Disabilities Resouce Fair on tap

Annual event helps families connect with local agencies to help loved ones

The eighth annual Developmental Disabilities Resource Fair will connect individuals and families with a wide variety of service providers from 11:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m on Thursday, Oct. 19, at Sunset Presbyterian Church, 14986 NW Cornell Road in Portland.

Participating exhibitors represent in-home support, respite, therapy services, recreational agencies, advocacy and support groups and other social service and government services. The fair offers a valuable opportunity for families and agencies to have face-to-face dialogue and interaction.

More than 7,000 individuals in Washington County live daily with the challenges of a developmental disability. Without proper support and services, living with the effects of a disability can be overwhelming, causing feelings of isolation and fatigue. Fortunately, resources are available to these individuals and their families.

Last year's fair was the first time for many of the 400-plus attendees to be exposed to the assortment of services available in the Portland area. One mother, who has attended the fair for several years, said this event has become a "habit and a must" for their family. They like being able to see many different resources all in one place. "I don't know how else I would have heard about them," she said. More than 55 service vendors were on hand in 2005 to meet attendees to discuss resources and information.

Special events include a visit by Portland Beavers mascot, Boomer, two educational presentations and two performing groups.

One of the performing groups on hand is the Portland Supported Employment Repertory Theatre, a theatre company who's thirty performers are all persons with disabilities. They will showcase an original musical, Rainbow Kittens With Wings, with lyrics and script by Jaime Currier and music by Anthony Schazt and other staff members of Portland Supported Employment.

The second group is a 35 voice Choir from PHAME (Pacific Handicapped Artists, Musicians and Entertainers) Academy. PHAME Academy provides learning and performance opportunities in art, drama, dance and music for citizens who are developmentally challenged. PHAME was founded 1984 as an artistic supplement to Special Olympics.

Anne Madden, board chair of PHAME, is enthusiastic about the fair. "This is a unique event, unlike anything I'm aware of anywhere else in the country. Service providers, parents and guardians, and some of the people with disabilities themselves will come. There will be booths, food, and lots of happiness!"

TriMet's RideWise program will be on stage at Noon, TriMet's "hands on" service to show people how to successfully use TriMet to get around the metro area. "The Roadmap and Transition to Support Services" will be presented at 1:00 p.m.

For more information, or to obtain translation or sign language services at the fair, contact the Washington County Department Health and Human Services Developmental Disabilities Program at 503 846-5749.