Developmentally disabled Oklahomans along with their advocates and caregivers gathered at the state Capitol on Thursday to rally and meet with lawmakers.
Mark L. Jones, Department of Human Services Community Living and Support Services director, gave the opening remarks to the crowd of more than 700, followed by members of the Oklahoma House of Representatives including Joe Dorman, Pat Ownbey, Jason Nelson, Scott Inman, Jadine Nollan, and Sens. A.J. Griffin and Constance N. Johnson.
The Developmental Disabilities Services waiting list holds the names of nearly 7,000 Oklahomans who are seeking services from the Oklahoma Department of Human Services. Some have been waiting as long as eight years, said Kevan Goff-Parker, a spokeswoman for DHS Developmental Disabilities Services.
Participants at Thursday’s rally said they hope lawmakers will approve additional funding.
Judy Goodwin, executive director of Oklahoma Community Based Providers, a nonprofit association that provides education, advocacy, representation and networking to Oklahoma agencies that serve the developmentally disabled, addressed the crowd about the need for increased state assistance, according to a news release from Goff-Parker.
“Welcome to the people’s house,” she said. “This is your house. You put the workers here with your tax money. Today’s theme is hear me roar. We want to make your voices heard. We need better funding, need to reduce the waiting list and need better services.”
Toward the end of the rally about 30 people broke out in a flash mob dance to Katy Perry’s hit song “Roar.”
“‘Roar’ fits our advocacy,” said Wanda Felty, a parent of a child with developmental disablities. “One voice is but a whisper but many become a roar.”