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Sheriff Bower will be keynote speaker at self-advocacy conference in Niagara Falls

Posted 10 April 2019 at 3:17 pm

Press Release, Self-Advocacy Association of NYS, Western Region

File photos by Tom Rivers: Randy Bower takes the oath of oath as Orleans County sheriff on Dec. 30, 2015. Former County Court Judge James Punch, right, administers the oath and Bower’s wife, Robin, holds The Bible. The Bowers’ children, Jacob and Jessica, attend the swearing-in.

NIAGARA FALLS – Jonathan Doherty of Albion is a man with a developmental disability. He is also a leader in Orleans County and a founding officer of the All Stars Self Advocacy group, a peer advocacy group that supports people to speak up for themselves and others.

Orleans County Sheriff Randy Bower also is a man with a disability. Paraplegic since a car accident as a young man, he serves the community as the Orleans County Sheriff. These two men met in the course of their civic engagement: Jonathan as an advocate for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, and Randy in his run to be elected as sheriff.

They have been supporters of one another and the community ever since. Says Sheriff Bower of Jonathan, “If he can go to every Chicken BBQ and event in Albion, so can I.”

One of the major barriers for people with developmental disabilities, at least those who cannot drive their own car, is transportation, especially in a rural county like Orleans. In learning about this, Sheriff Bower personally gave Jonathan and members of his group a ride to the Regional Self Advocacy conference, then went on to look at transportation solutions for the group, so that they could be more independent and civically engaged.

In turn, Jonathan, as a representative of the Regional Self Advocacy Conference planning committee, invited Sheriff Bower to be the keynote speaker for the regional self-advocacy conference.

Jonathan Doherty walks in Holley’s parade in June 2016 with the Self Advocate All Stars. In 2016 he was named Volunteer of the Year for the western region of the Self-Advocacy Association of New York State.

This year’s conference will be held at the Niagara Falls Convention Center and is expected to draw over 260 self-advocates and their supporters from across all of Western New York and the Finger Lakes.

The conference is open to everyone in the community. The deadline to register is May 1.

The conference is June 27-28 with Bower speaking on the opening day.

Self Advocacy in Action Production Team – a group of people with intellectual or developmental disabilities who make their own media – will be the keynote speakers on the second day of the conference.

The conference includes workshops on advocacy, health, and lifestyle topics. For more information about the event, click here.

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