Minnesota Making Push to Integrate People with Disabilities into Communities

By KBJR News 1

August 14, 2013 Updated Aug 14, 2013 at 10:08 AM CDT

Duluth, MN (NNCNOW.com) --- Minnesota Lieutenant Governor Yvonne Prettner Solon and a governor appointed sub-cabinet group held a public hearing in Duluth Tuesday to hear personal testimonies on how to better integrate people with disabilities into the community.

State leaders are working together to develop an Olmstead Plan that will change how people with disabilities receive services and engage in the community.

"What we wanna do is make sure that people are integrated as much as possible and that they have as many choices as the average person has," said Lieutenant Governor Yvonne Prettner-Solon.

The Olmstead plan originates from an American with Disabilities Act case in which the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that it is unlawful to keep people with disabilities in institutional settings when a community setting is possible. Prettner-Solon says the goal is to make Minnesota a place where people with disabilities can live as normal a life as possible.

"Where they live, where they work, how they around the state or the community and how their involved in the community," said Prettner-Solon.

For St Louis County Commissioner Chris Dahlberg, the matter is personal.

"I have a brother that's 60 with developmental disabilities," said Dahlberg.

Dahlberg says he is happy to see that people's attitudes and acceptance towards those with disabilities has changed for the better.

"When I was young man people would come to my parents and said having a disabled child was punishment from God," said Dahlberg.

Dahlberg says his brother is now thriving in a community integrated group home. He says that there is still a lot of work to do in Duluth and Minnesota to develop a plan that will work to benefit the most people, but he remains hopeful.

"I often talk as a commissioner achievement to be able to fulfill our dreams and that's all it is is just giving a person that opportunity," said Dahlberg.

Prettner-Solon says a challenge of the Olmstead Plan will be the cost and they will look at how to best implement the plan with the funds they have.

Another public hearing is set for Rochester on Monday August 19

Written and posted to the web by Raeanna Marnati