Daugaard honors Direct Support Professionals and the work they do

South Dakota Governor Dennis Daugaard has proclaimed September 7th through the 13th as Direct Support Professionals Recognition Week.
Daugaard is honoring the efforts of those who work closely with people who have intellectual and developmental disabilities.
Black Hills FOX reporter Darren Leeds spoke with staff at Black Hills Works about the important work they do.

Direct support professionals provide a wide range of individualized supports that allow people with disabilities to live, work and function as independently as possible in their communities.

Jacki Schoenrock says, "It's a really sort of undervalued profession, but it's so important and the work that they do is instrumental in our agency. We have almost 400 direct support professionals in our agency."

Chantil Wilkerson has been with Black Hills Works for 14 years and works with people who need constant support.
She says about 90% of them use wheelchairs for mobility.

Chantil Wilkerson says, "Throughout the day we're getting them through their lives, along with that we're going to classes. I focus on a lot more exercise-type activities with the people. We really try to focus on their abilities and not their disabilities in this room."

Chantil says recently they've started to incorporate more technology into their work to help those they serve live more independent lives.
They even had a few Strider Bikes donated for the folks to use.

Chantil Wilkerson says, "Which have been amazing to work on balance, has just been amazing for these guys. Another one of the things are the iPads, using these for a communication device, fine motor skills, cause and effect."

And the people that the DSP's help on a daily basis say they really appreciate the support.

Kelli Blosmo says, "They help we with my therapy and I go to classes and karaoke and stuff like that and I really like all that, it's really fun for me throughout the day."

Chantil Wilkerson says, "I don't know if it's a passion or love for the people that I support, that's what has kept me here for all these years, is the love and the caring that these guys actually in return give us."