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Published on November 20, 2023
Decatur Honors Dementia Friendly Task Force and Disability Advocate Shirley PaceleySource: Google Street View

Next week, on the 28th, Decatur, Illinois, will honor the deeds of the Dementia Friendly Decatur Task Force (DFDTF) and local resident Shirley Paceley. The Illinois Department on Aging (IDoA), in collaboration with the local CHELP senior care agency and the East Central Illinois Area Agency on Aging (ECIAAA), recognizes the invaluable contributions made by both parties, according to the press release by the Illinois Government. Through tireless work since 2021, the DFDTF achieved recognition for Decatur as a dementia-friendly community, while Paceley has devoted nearly half a century to the betterment of individuals with disabilities.

The DFDTF's hard work and dedication earned them the 2023 Governor's Engaging Aging Award. Spearheaded by Community Liaison Consultant Sheila Greuel and CHELP Executive Director Julie Walker, the Task Force garnered support from a diverse collection of community organizations and made Decatur a safer home for dementia patients and their caregivers within a year. Addressing the needs of their community, they developed strategies to fulfill the criteria set by dementia-friendly America.

Furthering its commitment, the Task Force and CHELP secured funding for a project coordinator tasked with overseeing the sustained growth of their dementia initiatives and providing continued assistance to dementia patients and their families, as per the press release. In association with the Scovill Zoo, Dementia Friendly Decatur hosts dementia-friendly days, offering free entry and bespoke programs to cater for affected individuals and their caregivers.

Parallel to the Task Force, Shirley Paceley, a tireless advocate for individuals with disabilities, will join the 2023 Senior Illinoisans Hall of Fame. With an impressive and enduring career as a professional, author, international trainer, and activist, Paceley dedicated her life to combating violence against people with disabilities. Her roles in the National Coalition to End Violence Against People with Disabilities and the Board of Directors for End Violence Against Women International underscore her unwavering dedication to her cause.

Throughout her career, Paceley has played a pivotal role in creating educational resources and protocols to aid understanding and address the needs of individuals with disabilities who are survivors of domestic or sexual violence. From 2006 to 2018, her contribution to the Illinois Imagines Project improved services for female victims with disabilities. This project saw Paceley work with state services, rape crisis centers, and disability service agencies, resulting in valuable resources for these organizations and self-advocates nationwide.

In addition to these efforts, Paceley also served on the Illinois Family Violence Coordinating Council Responding to Survivors with Disabilities Committee, working to create a model protocol for law enforcement and prosecution to better interact with disabled victims, as detailed in the press release. She has facilitated training in more than 30 states on issues including prevention, intervention, and criminal justice system responses, underpinning her ongoing commitment to her mission.