Updated on 6/6/2013 1:45:06 PM.
Source: Vanderbilt Kennedy Center
By: Elizabeth Turner
The 2013 Tennessee Disability Megaconference was held May 30-31 at the Marriott Nashville Airport. This year's theme was "Deep Roots, Broad Branches, Strong Wings," paraphrasing a quote by Jonas Salk: Good parents give their children roots and wings: roots to know where home is, and wings to fly off and practice what has been taught them.
Coordinated by primary partners The Arc Tennessee and the Tennessee Council on Developmental Disabilities, the conference consisted of 43 breakout sessions, four keynote speakers, a community dance, and an awards banquet to cap off the event.
Among the award winners was the Vanderbilt Kennedy Center's Courtney Taylor, Assistant Director of Communications and Dissemination, who was honored by The Arc Tennessee with the Staff Values Integrity Award. Among her many responsibilites with the Kennedy Center, Taylor holds an integral role with the Disabilities, Religion, and Spirituality Program and serves as a co-leader of a weekly book club with Next Steps at Vanderbilt students.
At the end of the evening, the winner of "Employment Idol!" was announced. Video submissions of gainfully-employed people with disabilities were available for viewing and voting before the conference. The videos demonstrated the employee's occupation and how he/she rises past any setbacks to become a valuable worker and contributor to society. This year's winner was Caroline Schaffer, who has worked for Shoney's for 15 years. First runner-up was awarded to John and Frank, who work together at Cloverbottom Mansion, and second runner-up was John Ryan, who works for Harbor Freight Tools. All of the winners were awarded Visa Check Cards. To view their respective video submissions, visit the TennesseeWorks Web site.
Pictured above, from left, are MegaConference Awards Banquet co-emcee Bud Sugg, Next Steps at Vanderbilt student, and Sheila Moore, CEO of The Arc Davidson County, which won The Arc Tennessee's Outstanding Local Chapter of the Year Award.
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