Leadership class helps build fence at Better Skills office

COUNTY — March was Disability Advocacy Month. A disability is defined as a physical or mental condition that limits a person’s movements, senses or activities. Those with disabilities long to be known for who they are.

“I’m really passionate about language,” said Julie Petty, self advocate and keynote speaker at the 20th annual Family Connection Hopes and Dreams Conference. “I’m not a cerebral palsy woman. I’m a woman with cerebral palsy. I’m a friend. I’m a sister. I’m a wife. I’m a mother. I am not cerebral palsy.”

Pickens County is fortunate to have a Board of Disability and Special Needs (PCBDSN) that operates a day shelter program for adults with disabilities called “Better Skills.”

At Better Skills, consumers receive adult development, pre-vocational, and vocational training in a variety of settings. Adult development aims at developing, maintaining, and increasing the consumer’s performance in daily living skills, physical coordination and dexterity, cognitive skills, social relationships, and communication skills. Pre-vocational and vocational skills are taught while consumers receive training incentive wages for work performed.

“After touring the facility, Leadership Pickens’ Class of 2014 became burdened by the lack of opportunities the consumers in the Better Skills program have for outdoor recreation,” Pickens County First Steps executive director Amity Buckner said.

Due to the nature of the Better Skills program, outdoor spaces are required to be fenced.

Josh Black, the director of the Better Skills program at the PCBDSN said that the board operates on a strict budget wherein most of its budget goes to support the day-to-day operations of the Board, with little extra funds to cover needs such as fencing.

With all these thoughts in mind, Buckner said “a project for the class was born.

“We decided as a class to purchase and install fencing for the outdoor area behind the building used for the Better Skills program,” Buckner said. “Our hope is that this fenced area will allow the consumers additional opportunities.”

Leadership Pickens Class of 2014 has spent the last few months raising funds to support the project, and construction began on the fencing on March 11.

A grand opening ceremony was held March 28 with hot dogs and refreshments.

For more information, visit or call (864) 859-5416. The PCBDSN is located at 1308 Griffin Mill Road in Easley.