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State to Honor Dementia Friendly Decatur Task Force, Local Resident During Nov. 28 Award Ceremony

Press Release - Monday, November 20, 2023

DECATUR, Ill. - Illinois Department on Aging (IDoA) Director Paula Basta will visit Decatur on Tuesday, Nov. 28 to present top honors to both an organization and individual who promote a positive image of aging. In partnership with local senior care agency CHELP and the East Central Illinois Area Agency on Aging (ECIAAA), IDoA is hosting an award ceremony for the Dementia Friendly Decatur Task Force (DFDTF), the recipient of a 2023 Governor's Engaging Aging Award, along with 2023 Senior Illinoisans Hall of Fame inductee and Decatur resident Shirley Paceley.


"The Dementia Friendly Decatur Task Force has taken such initiative to make Decatur a safer, more welcoming, and accessible community for persons living with dementia and their caregivers," said IDoA Director Paula Basta. "I'm very pleased to recognize their successful efforts, as well as to honor the contributions of local resident Shirley Paceley, a nationally renowned trainer on preventing and responding to violence against people with disabilities."


Members of the media are invited to attend the award ceremony on Tuesday, Nov. 28 at 3 p.m. at the Beach House, located at 2301 E. Lake Shore Dr. in Decatur. Awardees will be available for interviews after the ceremony concludes.


About the DFDTF: The Dementia Friendly Decatur Task Force (DFDTF) was established in Aug. 2021 to complete the steps necessary for the city of Decatur to earn formal recognition as the first dementia-friendly community in east-central Illinois. Under the leadership of East Central Illinois Area Agency on Aging Community Liaison Consultant Sheila Greuel and CHELP Executive Director Julie Walker, and in collaboration with several community-based organizations and stakeholders, the task force achieved its goal by Aug. 2022.


Task force members worked diligently to complete a community-wide assessment, identify key unmet needs, and develop strategies to address the actionable steps required for an application to Dementia Friendly America to be completed and accepted.


Members of the Dementia Friendly Decatur Task Force include the Macon County Mental Health Board, Land of Lincoln Credit Union, ECIAAA, Alzheimer's Association, Macon County Health Department/Starting Point, Macon County Emergency Management Agency, Decatur Chamber of Commerce, Memorial Health Systems, Decatur Park District, Empowerment Opportunity Center, Old Kings Orchard, and several other community partners. CHELP is serving as the lead agency and fiduciary organization for Dementia Friendly Decatur.


Since earning the dementia-friendly designation, CHELP has secured ongoing funding to hire a project coordinator focused on long-term sustainability, allowing the task force to continue to offer instructional resources to community members, including dementia-friendly business practices and tips to effectively communicate with people with cognitive impairment. Dementia Friendly Decatur also collaborates with Scovill Zoo to host monthly dementia-friendly days with free admission and special programs for persons living with dementia and their caregivers.


About Shirley Paceley: Paceley is a published author, international trainer, consultant, and activist with nearly 50 years of experience working with people with disabilities. She is a founding member of the National Coalition to End Violence Against People with Disabilities and served on the Board of Directors for End Violence Against Women International. Paceley has also served as director of Blue Tower Training, where she developed the WE CAN Stop Abuse curriculum for people with developmental disabilities.


From 2006 until 2018, Paceley participated in the Illinois Imagines Project, a statewide initiative to improve services to women with disabilities who are survivors of sexual violence. The project was directed by the Illinois Department of Human Services, Illinois rape crisis centers, disability service agencies and self-advocates. Project collaborators developed a variety of educational materials for use by rape crisis centers, disability service agencies and self-advocates in Illinois and nationwide.


Paceley has also served on the Illinois Family Violence Coordinating Council Responding to Survivors with Disabilities Committee, which developed model statewide protocols for law enforcement and prosecutors to interact with crime victims with disabilities. She has conducted trainings in more than 30 states related to prevention, intervention and the criminal justice system response to people with disabilities who experience sexual and domestic violence.


About IDoA: IDoA serves and advocates for older Illinoisans and their caregivers by administering quality and culturally appropriate programs that promote partnerships and encourage independence, dignity, and quality of life. For information about the Department's programs and services for older adults and persons with disabilities, visit or contact the Senior HelpLine toll-free at 1-800-252-8966, Monday through Friday between 8:30 a.m. and 5 p.m.

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