Monday, November 6, 2023 - One local advocate was recently honored by his peers for his advocacy work in the field of disabilities.
He has received a pair of advocacy awards in the past three weeks for his work with families in eastern Oklahoma. One award is for his outstanding contributions to rural areas and the other in is work with individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder.
On October 13, during the Oklahoma Autism Conference in Norman, Kodey Toney, of Panama, was honored with the The Judy Pluess Excellence in Autism Award from the Oklahoma Autism Network. This is a state-wide award that is given to an advocate that works with individuals with autism and their families.
Toney, who has a son on the spectrum, is an advocate as well as the director of the Pervasive Parenting Center. The Center is a resource center based out of Poteau that helps families with all disabilities find the services they need to help make a better life for their loved ones. The center grew from Toney’s advocacy work for his own son.
“When Konner was first diagnosed my wife and I were looking for anything we could to help him be successful,” said Toney. “We found out that in rural eastern Oklahoma, where we live, that resources are limited, and what is here, most people don’t know about. That’s when we started doing our research and started bringing some of those resources to the area. Then I started getting phone calls asking if I was the one that knew about autism. I started sharing what I knew, and it just grew from there. In 2014, my wife Jennifer and I decided to start a non-profit organization to help families that were going through the same things we had been. That is how the Pervasive Parenting Center began.”
The Center has created many programs for families in the area that include parent support groups, social groups for transition-aged young adults, sibshops, autism training, autism screenings, peer mentoring programs in the schools, and assistance with school services including Individualized Education Programs (IEP) advocacy.
Thanks to a Grant from the US Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP), donations and fundraisers, all of the services are offered free to families. PPC offers these services to families throughout LeFlore, Sequoyah, Haskell, Latimer, Adair, and Cherokee Counties.
Thanks to a partnership with the Cherokee Nation, the center also helps families with recognized tribes throughout the Cherokee Reservation area as well.
Toney’s work in rural eastern Oklahoma led to the second award received on November 1, in Edmond.
The Rural Health Association of Oklahoma recognized Toney with the 2023 Rural Health Advocate of the Year Award. This honor is given in recognition of outstanding leadership and services to rural Oklahoma communities.
“It’s an honor to be recognized,” said Toney. “I don’t do it for the recognition. I do it because in the rural areas of the state we feel left out sometimes. But, it’s nice to know that people are paying attention to us in the outlying areas of the state. If that’s what it takes to get more services to the families in our area, then I’ll take it.”
Toney went on to say that this award may be an individual award, but it would not be possible without his team around him. This includes his staff members, board of directors, and family members.
“This is especially true for my family,” said Toney. “Especially my wife Jennifer who really is the brains behind everything. I am just the mouth. Konner is our inspiration for everything, and Kruz keeps us grounded.”
For more information please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 918-647- 1255.
KXMX Staff Writer
For more news stories stay tuned to The MIX 105.1 or visit www.kxmx.com