2017 Inclusion Awards Announced at the State House
Maine Office of the State Treasurer, June 01, 2017

The Maine Development Disabilities Council (MDDC) presented awards in the Hall of Flags at the State House today, recognizing and celebrating students and schools that demonstrate the concept of inclusion, creating a world in which all people are valued members of the community.

Treasurer Hayes was recognized as the 2017 recipient of the Policymaker Award from the MDDC, for her dedication, perseverance, and continued efforts to organize the establishment of an “Achieve a Better Life Experience” (ABLE) program in the State of Maine. The federal ABLE act allows eligible individuals with disabilities to open a tax-advantaged savings account that will allow them to save without affecting their eligibility for SSI, Medicaid, and other federal benefits. Treasurer Hayes announced today that she is currently working with Bangor Savings Bank to develop an ABLE account product that will meet the federal requirements. "We are excited to have this opportunity to work with Treasurer Hayes on this project” said Stephen Flowers, Vice President of Bangor Savings Bank. “Providing more opportunities for community inclusion is the goal of the ABLE program” said Treasurer Hayes.

This year the MDDC challenged Maine students to submit an essay or creative expression answering the question: "How does full inclusion of Individuals with Development Disabilities in all aspects of community life benefit the community and its members?"/p>

Seven students were recognized for demonstrating an exceptional meaning of what Inclusion should be in the communities in which we live. Congratulations to Jonas Long, Tara Jorgensen, and Daden Palmer, who all received Honorable Mentions; 3rd Place winner, Nate Foye; 2nd Place winner, Tabetha Ganzel, and 1st place winner for the Creative Expression Award, Mackenzie Stephenson, and 1st Place Essay Award winner, Travis Nickerson.

The MDDC also recognized two educators, Tom Wells of Cony High School with the Teacher Award and Bernadette Willette of Hodgdon High School with the School Participation Award. "Thank you for letting us celebrate you.” said Treasurer Hayes to the students and teachers receiving awards.

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