Michael Counterman was chosen as a John Hancock MLK Summer Scholar 2012 for Partners for Youth with Disabilities. His participation in PYD programs has evolved over the years, as he has been a mentee, a youth leader at the annual National Youth Leadership Forum, an intern, Peer Leader, and MLK Scholar.
Having clocked over 500 hours of community service to date, Michael serves as a peer leader and active participant in the PYD community. Michael reflects on his involvement with PYD and the influence it has had on him: “I started getting involved with PYD at age 16. At the time I did not have many friends and I was not as comfortable with my disability as I am now. Since I started at PYD, I have become much more mature and accepting of my disability.” Michael is actively involved in PYD’s Access to Theatre and Making Healthy Connections programs.
Working closely with Deep Chinappa, PYD’s Director of Outreach and Recruitment, Michael was able to learn more about the business that goes into running the programs at PYD. Deep says of Michael, “Michael has overcome a lot of obstacles and has contributed immensely to the PYD programs. As an intern he was very enthusiastic about his work, completing assigned tasks of outreach and marketing the PYD programs to schools in the Boston area.”
Michael is interested in pursuing a career in broadcasting, and participating in Access to Theatre has helped him feel comfortable in front of crowds. Michael transferred this fall from Massoit Community College to UMass Boston and is continuing his studies of Communications and Broadcast Journalism.
For Michael’s performance in ATT this summer, he was sure from the start what his direction would be: “I knew I wanted to do something different and crazy. I love to make people laugh.” And laugh they did. Michael and Movement Improvisation Director, Maureen Finnerty, donned disco-inspired costumes and choreographed a creative rendition of “Proud Mary” that called for standing ovations from audiences at both ATT performances.
Serving as a Peer Leader is something that comes naturally to Michael. Deep explains, “During the Summer Institute ATT, Michael helped make a difference to the new youth by being a stellar role model. He focused on all the positive experiences he has had at ATT to improve the new participants’ self-confidence and encourage them to participate.” Michael has certainly given back as much as he has gained at PYD.