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VIUCEDD to Host 6th 'Voices That Count' Forum

The Virgin Islands University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities (VIUCEDD) will host the 6th annual "Voices That Count" policy forum at the University of the Virgin Islands on Oct. 21, on St. Croix, and Oct. 23, on St. Thomas.

"Voices that Count" is an annual, territory-wide forum that calls attention to the issues and concerns that people with disabilities face as they relate to education, public safety, accessibility and transportation in the U.S. Virgin Islands. The theme for this year's forum is "A Call for Action." During the forum, people with disabilities and their families, representatives from health organizations, community activists and policy makers will come together to collaborate on ways to enhance the quality of life for individuals with disabilities. They will also work to provide them with tools necessary for independence, productivity and full inclusion in the Virgin Islands community.

"Hosting activities such as "Voices That Count" is one of the ways that VIUCEDD has worked over the past several years to develop awareness and provide community services and training within the Virgin Islands about disability related issues," said VIUCEDD Executive Director Dr. Yegin Habtes. "We have worked diligently to expand efforts to advocate for people with disabilities, conduct research to inform the community and disseminate information on key issues that affect the Virgin Islands."

On St. Croix, the "Voices That Count" forum will run from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 21. It will take place in the Great Hall of the North West Wing building, on UVI's St. Croix campus. On St. Thomas the forum will run from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 23. It will be held in the Administration and Conference Center on UVI's St. Thomas campus. St. Thomas participants are asked to park at UVI's Sports and Fitness Center and use shuttle services that will be provided.

There is no fee for conference participants, but space is limited on both islands. The deadline to register is Friday, Oct. 16.

Individuals who wish to participate on St. Croix should contact Gerri Hanna (email: ghanna@uvi.edu or call 692-1919) or Stephanie Barnes (email: viautismnetwork@gmail.com or call 626-3330). On St. Thomas, contact Maritza Swan (email: mswan@uvi.edu or call 776-9200 ext. 2334).

VIUCEDD is funded by the Administration on Developmental Disabilities of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Its mission, under the provisions of the Developmental Disabilities Act, is to enhance the quality of life for individuals with disabilities and their families in the Virgin Islands and to provide them with tools necessary for independence, productivity and full inclusion.

To learn more about "Voices That Count" or VIUCEDD, please visit the center's web site: http://VIUCEDD.uvi.edu.