STOW — If you’re affected by a disability, this panel wants to hear from you. The Commission on Inclusion will host an open forum Nov. 13 at 6 p.m. in the Board and Commissions Room in Stow City Hall; community members are invited to come share any concerns.

"We’re having this open forum so people can approach us with any difficulties that they’re having so we can help them through it," reports Commission Chairperson Dr. Claire Wilson. She’s served on the panel for about four years and has a granddaughter with an intellectual disability. 

The commission usually meets on the fourth Tuesday of the month at 6 p.m. at Stow City Hall, 3760 Darrow Road.

The commission was an early initiative of former Mayor Sara Kline’s administration. The commission comprises community members and has a mission of advising the city on ways of creating a more inclusive and welcoming community for people with disabilities. Among its achievements has been arranging for handicapped parking and a viewing area during the city’s annual Fourth of July parade.

The panel is currently advocating making Stow parks and recreation programs more inclusive. One of the commission’s recent accomplishments was making Heritage Lake at Silver Springs Park, 5027 Stow Road, accessible for all who want to fish there. There was a gap between the ground and a fishing dock near Heritage Lake, explains Nick Wren, the mayor’s chief of staff and Stow service director.

"We added asphalt grindings so a wheelchair could access the dock," Wren says, adding, "In the future we are trying to put an ADA accessible path around the lake, but we are unsure if we will complete that this year." Councilmember Brian Lowdermilk (Ward 3) played a role in securing the improvement.

Commission member Bruce Bach says the body has a wealth of knowledge among its members regarding different disabilities, plus many resources as well as their own experiences to draw upon.

"I am so proud of how very in tune with disabilities the city is," Wilson says. As an example, she notes that a police officer attended the Commission’s last meeting to discuss training its officers for encounters with those on the autism spectrum. "We’re really doing a good job," Wilson says, "but I don’t want anything to fall through the cracks." 

For more information about the forum or the Stow Commission on Inclusion, call Teresa McDonnell at 330-689-2890 or email inclusioncommission@stow.oh.us.

Reporter Ellin Walsh can be reached at 330-541-9419, ewalsh@recordpub.com or @EllinWalsh_RPC.