A Lucky St. Patrick’s Day: PYD at the Bruins 50/50 Raffle Event

Seventeen PYD participants and staff attended this past Monday's Bruins game at the TD Garden!

This past Monday, TD Garden was filled with St. Patrick’s Day luck—and PYD came home with $7,500 as a result to help fund our work with youth with disabilities!

Thanks to the generosity of the Bruins Foundation—a longtime supporter of PYD—we were given the opportunity to be a participating organization for the 50/50 raffle that is held during each of its Monday night home games. This past Monday, on St. Patrick’s Day, PYD was the beneficiary of the 50/50 raffle in which half of the proceeds are awarded to the participating organization and the other half given to the winner of the raffle. During the first two periods of the game, volunteers sold $15,000 worth of tickets!

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Opening the Gate for Athletes with Disabilities: A Guest Blog Post by Ingrid Floyd

Are you mourning the end of the Paralympics? Are you in need of a sports fix? Look no further than this blog post by Ingrid Floyd, author of Opening the Gate: Stories and Activities about Athletes with Disabilities, a collection of interviews by Floyd with athletes. While written for a middle school audience, the book is likely to appeal to all age groups. We hope you enjoy Floyd’s blog post, below!

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New Inclusive Fitness for Youth Initiative Partners Announced

Partners for Youth with Disabilities’ (PYD) National Center is excited to announce that Boys and Girls Clubs of Assabet Valley (BGCAV) and the McKinley Schools of Boston have been chosen as the newest partners for the Inclusive Fitness for Youth Initiative (IFYI).

IFYI increases access to fitness and recreation programs for Boston area youth living with disabilities. Funded by The Boston Foundation, IFYI holds the potential to create population-level change among these youth with regard to their social, physical, and emotional well-being.

As part of the partnership, BGCAV and McKinley Schools will receive customized inclusion support and training, as well as a financial sub-award to make physical improvements or purchase adaptive equipment to increase access to sports, fitness, and recreation for youth living with disabilities.

The mission of the BGCAV is to promote the growth of young people in our community by empowering them to become productive, caring, responsible citizens. For more information about the services offered through the BGCAV, please visit their website at http://www.bgcav.org.

McKinley Schools provide free and appropriate public education to school age children requiring Special Education, (ages 3-21), and who reside in Boston, Massachusetts. All students have Individual Education Programs, pursuant to the Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA), and receive need-based differentiated instruction. For more information about McKinley Schools, please visit www.bostonpublicschools.org.

Get Ready for the Sochi Paralympic Winter Games!

Are you  as excited as we are for the Sochi Paralympic Winter Games? If you’re not ready for the upcoming week-plus of thrilling competition, we hope this post will bring you up to speed. so you’ll be prepared when nearly 700 people with disabilities from 45 countries converge on Sochi to vie for the Gold, Silver and Bronze in five sports.

 On your mark. Get set. Go!

The Paralympics Opening Ceremony takes place on Friday, March 7. The competition begins the following day with men’s and women’s alpine skiing and runs through Sunday, March 16, when the Closing Ceremony wraps things up. The official Paralympics 2014 website has the full schedule here, and you can navigate from that page to daily schedules of all the events or the schedules for specific sports.

In the event you’re not going to Sochi—even though there’s a strong possibility it’ll be warmer there next week than it is here in Boston—there will be an unprecedented amount of broadcast coverage and live streaming video online. NBC and the US Olympic Committee have joined forces to present 52 hours of coverage across NBC and its sports affiliate, NBCSN. There’ll be 27 hours of live coverage spread over the duration of the games, beginning with the March 7 Opening Ceremony at 11am on NBCSN.

The network will cover all five Paralympic winter sports: Alpine skiing (including snowboarding), cross-country skiing, biathlon, ice sled hockey and wheelchair curling (if you’re like most people and have no idea what curling is, learn more about it on the Paralympic 2014 site). On top of that, TeamUSA.org will live stream all of the competition at its website.

Who to watch

There are a handful of inspiring athletes from Massachusetts competing in Sochi next week. Check out Alpine skier Laurie Stephens of Wenham, a 30-year-old who was born with spina bifida. Stephens earned two gold medals at the Torino 2006 Paralympic Winter Games and a silver in Vancouver in 2010. We can’t wait to see what she’ll bring home this year!

Meghan Lino of East Falmouth will also be in Sochi, as an alternate on the Wheelchair Curling team. Like Stephens, Lino was also born with spina bifida. But that hasn’t stopped her from becoming one of the top two women wheelchair curlers in the country. Lino was recently profiled as part of TeamUSA.org’s regular feature “14 for 14.” Learn what kind of music psyches her up for a match, the inspirations behind her two tattoos, and who her favorite WWE wrestler is. Lino also confesses that when her coach first suggested she’d someday make Team USA, she though he was nuts.

“He told me and my four Cape Cod Curling Club teammates, after we had met previous members of the U.S. wheelchair curling team, that we would be them one day. I looked at him like he was crazy,” she recalls in the profile. “I never dreamed I’d make it this far, but now I am the No. 2 female in the country. I am excited to be a part of Team USA.”

You can also learn more about Lino and her Paralympics teammate David Palmer of Mashpee in this excellent piece that ran on WGBH earlier last week. Palmer, who became a paraplegic after a motorcycle accident in the early 1990s, is competing in his first Paralympics, and speaks movingly about how curling has changed his life.

Aside from our local athletes, there are some other stellar athletes competing on Team USA. Our friends over at the blog JJ’s List did a post on five athletes to watch in Sochi, three of whom are Army veterans who became disabled in the course of their military service. But we’d like to call your attention to the only woman on the list, one Monica Bascio, who has taken multi-tasking to a whole new level. Bascio, a Paralympic Silver medalist, will be competing in cross-country skiing this winter, but she is also a champion handcyclist. There’s some great video of a close race in London on her website.

Read up on all of the Team USA members here.

The Paralympics are one of the few ways our society acknowledges and celebrates the athletic abilities and achievements of people with disabilities. We here at Partners for Youth with Disabilities look forward to the spirited competition and wish all of the Paralympians the best of luck in Sochi (but especially Team USA).

Youth and Family Disability Resources: March 2014

With spring just around the corner, March is a great time for a little organization and spring cleaning. This month we provide a variety of resources that are designed to help you manage projects or take steps toward reaching your personal and professional goals.

Mobility International USA

The Mobility International website is a great tool for individuals with disabilities who are interested in international opportunities. The organization’s mission is to empower those with cognitive, hearing, learning, mental health, physical, systemic, vision and other disabilities through international exchange and development. The website provides short-term international disability leadership programs in the U.S. and abroad, free resources and tools for disabilities, and employment opportunities. If you are interested in human rights, disabilities, or international studies, then this is the site for you!


Keeping track of several different projects and tasks at one time can be confusing, difficult, and time-consuming without the proper tools. Trello is an accessible website and free app that that organizes projects into boards. In one glance,  Trello tells you what’s being worked on, who’s working on what, and where something is in a process. It’s a great tool for group projects, personal tasks, or a combination of the two. Stay organized this Spring by taking advantage of this useful tool.

Career Pathways Workshops

The New England Aquarium is offering a lecture series for youth who are interested in a future marine-related career. Through these lectures, youth can meet professionals working in the science field and understand important skills that are necessary for a future in marine science. Each lecture is designed to be interactive through the activities that showcase aspects of various jobs and career paths. Participants can tailor their experience to their own interests by attending any combination of lectures in the series. All lectures are free to youth 13 years and older.

Spring 2014 Athena Conference

The Athena Conference is a biannual conference held at Harvard University by the Athena program. It is an opportunity for students to gather for a day to spark dialogue on gender empowerment, youth activism and community leadership. It includes insightful discussions about our visions of a just world, workshops spanning from female politicians to women in literature, two self-defense sessions, a coffeehouse for self-expression, and more! Be a part of this personal and professional development opportunity on April 12th from 10am-6pm by registering on the website.

City of Boston Scholarship 

If you are a resident of the City of Boston, have a high school diploma or GED, and plan to pursue higher education at a post-secondary institution in Massachusetts, apply to receive the City of Boston Scholarship. The application deadline is April 4th, 2014.

Generation Next Academy (GNA)

The GNA Teen Center in Dorchester is inviting teens ages 13-18 to check out the variety of activities that the program has to offer. The free program is a place where teens can learn about computer labs/academic support, career support, arts, civic engagement & leadership, and more. Just stop by the center (1353 Dorchester Ave) during regular hours (Mon-Fri, 2-6pm) and submit an application.