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2023 Ohio Synergy Conference

The Cambridge Dictionary definition of synergy is “the combined power of a group of things when they are working together is greater than the total power achieved by each working separately.” Simply put – there is power together!

The 2023 Ohio Synergy Conference was an event of epic proportions. Over 800 attendees participated in motivational sessions where connections and education were at the forefront. Erin O’Malley was the keynote speaker who spoke about unlocking the power of human connection. She said the focus should be on people, not the plan, and to create a culture where it is okay to take risks and make mistakes.

This year the Allen County Board of Developmental Disabilities provided grants to nine individuals active in services and advocacy efforts to make the conference more affordable. Six individuals attended with two employees from the Board. Each picked sessions of interest, actively participated in conversations and shared personal viewpoints on the topics. One such session on decision-making was taught as a game where teamwork was required for the goals and options. Another great outcome was meeting new friends over the two days.

One topic of great interest was the lack of transportation and how this is a barrier to accessing the community and employment. A panel discussion of individuals that serve in various capacities with local county boards shared supports used, along with the obstacles encountered: 48-hour notice, no wheelchair accessibility, too rural for Uber and/or no evening hours. Waivers and self-directed funds have provided some options to allow for more independence.

In another session, Charting the Life Course, the audience learned the importance of naming the supports everyone has in their lives. People would identify personal strengths, assets, relationships, technology and other such ideas. This tool gives a person a way to organize thoughts and empowers people to have what they need for a good life.

The eight people that attended from Allen County were James Gephart, Jordan Gault, Michelle Wilson, Mandy Lehman, Cindy Shumaker, Machal Hoops, Sue Savinsky and Tammy Delong. James was able to speak about his experiences with the Allen County Board of Developmental Disabilities at the regular board meeting on October 31, 2023. He said the time at the conference was educational. He described how an internet safety session broadened his view of what he does or says online. The conference was described as high energy, very busy, great learning and full of smiles.


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