Douglas County Celebrates Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month

Paula Waterman

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Douglas County, Colorado has declared March, “Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month.” To promote programs and services for the developmentally disabled, the county established a Developmental Disabilities Mil Levy Grant program, (DDML) in 2001. The one mil property tax is dedicated to providing 93% of the DDML fund for the County’s program, Developmental Pathways, 5.5% for a competitive grant program and the remaining 1.5% goes to cover treasurer’s fees.

Castle Rock, the seat of Douglas County, provides some unique and innovative opportunities for children and adults with developmental disabilities. Wellspring Community is a non-profit that specializes in helping adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities. They are located in Castle Oaks Church at 826 Park St., where they operate a full-size commercial bakery aimed at empowering the lives of adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities. The bakery, Wellspring & Co., offers a unique line of baked goods, including cookies, and freshly made baked goods.

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Their products can be found locally at Manna, Whole Foods, Sky Ridge Hospital, Castle Rock Adventist Hospital, 212 Pizza, The Exchange Coffee House, and Tony’s Market.

Another unique opportunity for adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities is the Castle Rock Collective, which is a partnership between Wellspring & Co Coffee and World Orphans. This partnership allows disabled adults a place to learn and grow, as well as create a space that is more inclusive and adaptive for all individuals. The coffee house is open Monday through Friday, 9 am to 2:30 pm, Saturday 9 am to 2 pm, and closed on Sundays.

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Dirt Coffee Bar is another program supported by the DDML grant program. Starting initially as a Coffee Truck, its goal is to train, employ and empower neurodivergent individuals through workforce development programming. Not only do they provide internships and employment workshops for the neurodivergent community, but they also provide workshops for employers to help them to learn to hire, retain and work effectively with neurodivergent individuals.

Another part of the Coffee Bar's mission is accomplished by bringing their mobile coffee truck to community events in local neighborhoods. Dirt Coffee Bar believes that empowering individuals and families with intellectual and developmental disabilities will allow them to utilize and explore different opportunities. This will lead to better choices, foster self-determination and increase inclusion in the workforce.

By bringing their truck to the community, Dirt Coffee Bar hopes that they will cultivate a greater understanding of the individualized education program (iep) offered in public schools, increase public perception concerning neurodivergent inclusion in the workplace, connect the community to local resources, as well as promote local workforce development training programs.

Douglas County awarded over $444,000 in community grants in 2022 to as many as twenty-seven different programs, many of them receiving, multiple awards. To apply for grants distributed in 2023, go to the Douglas County Website and search under community services. They provide a list of required documents to submit to qualify for the DDML grants. They also provide a grant software user guide, as well as a training video.

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Ten years experience as a Certified Divorce Mediator. Trained in all forms of conflict, and skillful in helping people identify their triggers and then de-escalate from them.

Castle Rock, CO
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