Governor Martin O’Malley of Maryland Appoints National Down Syndrome Society Vice President of Advocacy & Affiliate Relations Sara Hart Weir to the Maryland Commission for Effective Community Inclusion of Individuals with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities
Weir will serve as the national disability organization representative on the new Maryland Commission
Governor Martin O’Malley of Maryland appoints National Down Syndrome Society (NDSS) Vice President of Advocacy & Affiliate Relations Sara Hart Weir to the Maryland Commission for Effective Community Inclusion of Individuals with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (IDD).
On September 17, O’Malley issued an Executive Order establishing the Commission, and today the Commissioners were announced. Chairman & CEO of Special Olympics Dr. Timothy P. Shriver will serve as the Chairman of the Commission. Governor O’Malley created the Commission in part as a response to the circumstances surrounding the death of Ethan Saylor, a 26-year old man with Down syndrome, who was tragically killed in his local movie theatre in January of this year.
“The Down syndrome community has been rocked by the tragic death of Ethan Saylor. We all continue to stand behind the Saylor family as we ask for justice for Ethan and his family, and this Commission is one step to ensure that what has happened to Ethan never happens to a member of the Down syndrome community again. NDSS applauds the Governor for establishing this Commission and appointing Weir to serve as the national disability advocate. As a national organization, we view this as an opportunity for Maryland to lead the way, and look forward to working with states across the country to follow suit,” said NDSS President Jon Colman.
NDSS, along with the National Down Syndrome Congress (NDSC), has been advocating for the last several months for Governor O’Malley and the US Department of Justice (DoJ) to conduct independent investigations into the senseless death of Ethan. There is an investigation currently underway at the Civil Rights Division at DoJ. Our organizations have also been calling on the Governor to ensure that law enforcement, first responders, and other public officials all receive the very best training regarding interacting with people with IDD.
“I am pleased to serve and represent the Down syndrome and disability community as a voice on this important Commission. Although I never had the fortune of knowing Ethan personally, we think about him every day and his life and legacy will forever ensure that all individuals with disabilities are treated with the respect and dignity they deserve for generations to come. We have experienced great strides in recent years, where people with disabilities are integrated into society as never before, but we must do more. For people with Down syndrome and other disabilities to be valued members of welcoming communities, we must guarantee those in public sector positions receive the very best training when it comes to interacting with individuals with IDD,” said NDSS Vice President of Advocacy & Affiliate Relations Sara Hart Weir.
The Commission will be tasked with evaluating the current training received by people that interact with the IDD community and developing and issuing recommendations about the types of statewide training standards that Maryland should adopt to educate individuals in positions of authority—particularly those in public sector positions such as law enforcement officials, paramedics and other first responders—about the best approaches for safely managing situations involving individuals with IDD. The Commission is required to submit an initial report, addressing statewide law enforcement guidelines and statewide training standards by January 9, 2014, which would have been Ethan’s 27th birthday.