Chilton/Shelby mental health group to meet

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Concerned residents have created an advocacy group to raise awareness for issues affecting the mentally and developmentally disabled and their families.

The Chilton/Shelby County Family and Consumer Advocacy Group formed earlier this summer with the ultimate goal of influencing elected officials to take more action to address the challenges faced by the disabled and their families.

&8220;Such a grass-roots movement has great potential because it represents voters, and elected officials tend to listen when blocks of voters speak with one voice,&8221; said Bruce Koppenhoefer, group member.

Specifically, the group wants lawmakers to address services that are needed and not available: like social and recreational opportunities, respite care, job training, housing options and transportation.

Early meetings focused on education group members about advocacy and the legislative process.

&8220;A key element of the education has been about building relationships and enhancing communication with public officials,&8221; said Koppenhoefer.

More recent meetings have addressed how to alert residents about services they are eligible for.

&8220;The primary challenge of an advocacy group is reaching and informing those thousands and their families that may be unaware of what&8217;s available to them or have given up trying to get access to services.&8221;

The group&8217;s next meeting will be Thursday, Sept. 28 at 6 p.m. at the Calera Recreational Center, just past Calera High School on Highway 31.

For more information contact Chilton-Shelby Mental Health Center, 205-668-1327, The Arc of Shelby County, 205-664-9313 or Bruce Koppenhoefer, 866-745-6319