Lawrence resident James Bart was appointed last week to the Kansas Council on Developmental Disabilities by Gov. Mark Parkinson.
“I just want to advocate for the opportunities for individuals with developmental disabilities within the state, and in particular my 17-year-old son Jacob,” Bart said.
Bart said his son, a junior at Free State High School, has autism.
“I am trying to decide what his future is going to look like. I am also at a point where he is becoming more independent and I have the time and energy to devote toward serving on the council,” he said.
Bart has served on the ARC of Douglas County board, which provides advocacy, education and support to people with developmental disabilities and their families. He is a member of Lawrence’s autism society, which he described as fleeting.
“The reality is that having a child with a disability can be kind of an isolating experience because of the demands of raising that child. A lot of times you don’t have the opportunity to get out and speak in public because you are at home caring for your child 24/7.”
Bart is looking forward to his three-year term on the council. He begins work April 23.
“I’ve had to develop the ability to be an advocate for Jake, and I want to expand the work that I’ve done directly for Jake to help other people here in the community,” he said.