The MRC Mentoring Project: Highlights from our first Career Mentor Brunch

Mentee with his mentor for the dayOn Saturday, September 13th, PYD hosted our first Career Mentor Brunch, in collaboration with Massachusetts Rehab Commission (MRC) with a mentor-for-a-day model.

The event took place at the Institute for Human Centered Design and was catered by Mucho Gusto, the catering company of Oz Mondejar and John Verlinden. There were a total of 37 attendees including MRC staff, mentees, and career mentors.

The goals were to provide mentees with transition support and to increase awareness about mentoring within the MRC and community to encourage more volunteer referrals of mentors who have disabilities.

The morning portion featured networking and presentations from guest speakers, including Ray Grand (PYD board member and President of Ray Grand Apparel) and Emeka Nwokeji (Director of Consumer Involvement at MRC). There was also a viewing of the recent documentary, Moving Mentoring Forward.

Mentees participated in resume building and interviewing workshops led by YEP Specialist Aileen Quintero with a “mentor- for- a-day” model in which mentees were paired with mentors from a variety of careers (e.g. graphic design, law, special education and legislature) to get one-on-one support with resume editing and mock interviewing.

It was a fun and informative day— thanks to all the mentors, mentees, and MRC staff who participated.

Aileen teaching a session at the Career Brunch  Match editing a resume together

Boys and Girls Club Staff Have a Ball with Adaptive Court Sports!

Boys and Girls Club staff at their training with Spaulding!Through the Inclusive Fitness for Youth Initiative (funded by The Boston Foundation), PYD has been partnering with Boys and Girls Club of Assabet Valley (BGCAV) in Maynard, MA to increase inclusion of youth with disabilities.

Through this partnership, PYD has provided several training opportunities, including facilitating “Expanding Access and Inclusion of Youth with Disabilities” for full and part-time staff. In addition, PYD worked with BGCAV leaders to provide training around understanding the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act (ADAAA).
This month, BGCAV received training in Adaptive Physical Education and Court Sports facilitated by PYD partner, Spalding Adaptive Sports Centers. This interactive training received high marks from the staff and demonstrated that adaptive sports can be fun for all!

As a result of the partnership, the BGCAV is considering how to add more adaptive sports opportunities for community youth, as well as how to actively outreach to youth with disabilities.

The Mission of the Boys & Girls Club of Assabet Valley is to promote the growth of young people in our community by empowering them to become productive, caring, responsible citizens. They have been serving children in the Maynard, Stow, Concord, Acton and Sudbury, Massachusetts area for over 40 years. To learn more about BGCAV and their exciting youth programming, check out their website:

Making Healthy Connections & Access to Theater 2014-2015

As fall swiftly approaches, Partners for Youth with Disabilities (PYD) is gearing up for an exciting year full of mentoring, workshops, career readiness classes, and support groups! Access to Theatre & Making Healthy Connections, two of our programs here at PYD, have been preparing all summer to provide our youth participants a variety of fun workshops and to keep our youth participants busy throughout the school year.

Access to Theatre (ATT)

Access to Theatre (ATT), one of five PYD programs, empowers youth through teaching them skills to access the artists’ within themselves. Participants will learn all aspects of theatre including how to act, direct, choreograph, make music, create costumes, and build sets. Youth that have participated in past years have expressed that through their participation in ATT, they were able to advocate for themselves easier. The workshops are designed for youth of all abilities and will take place throughout the year at the Mass Hospital School. As always, ATT will be directed by the wonderful Deep Chinappa.

Access To Theatre at the Mass Hospital School Fall Dates:  

  • October 19thOctober 26th, November 2nd, November 9th, November 16th, November 23rd, December 7th,      December 14th

Access to Theatre at the Mass Hospital School Winter/Spring 2015 Dates:

  • January 11th,  January 25th, February 1st, February 8th, March 1st, March 8th, March 15th, March 22nd, March 29th, April 5th, April 12th, May 3rd

ATT 2014 - MHS

Making Healthy Connections (MHC)

Making Healthy Connections (MHC), one of five PYD programs, is a youth group that empowers youth by providing them with a support network that focuses on developing skills for transition to independence and adulthood. At Making Healthy Connections youth ages 14-22 learn a variety of skills through guest speakers and workshops while forming lasting friendships with their peers. Our Boston MHC group will be meeting this year on Friday nights from 7pm-9:30pm at Oak Square YMCA in Brighton. We have already lined up some wonderful speakers for the year that will cover topics such as: eating healthy, talking to your healthcare provider, relationships and sexuality, disability pride, and many more! 

MHC 2014

Feel free to contact Deep Chinappa at 617-556-4075 ext. 20,  to find out more information about either of these programs or if you have any further questions.

“The Mentor and Me and PYD” By Dejan Pajevic

Dejan with his mentor CarlOver the summer we invited our PYD fellows to participate in sharing their stories on our blog about their participation in our mentor match program. We asked them to tell us a bit about themselves, who their mentor is, and their favorite memories with their mentor. The following post was written by Dejan Pajevic, who very enthusiastically shared his story with us about his PYD involvement and his mentor match experience with his mentor, Carl Richardson.

Continue reading ““The Mentor and Me and PYD” By Dejan Pajevic”

Breaking the Cycle of “Passing”

self-consciousFive years ago, if you’d asked me whether I considered myself a part of the disability community, I would probably have rolled my eyes and given you a dirty look. Although I was born profoundly deaf and had two cochlear implants, I did my best to distance myself from those who claimed “disability pride.”

I have never learned sign language, and for most of my life had absolutely no interest in doing so. In noisy classrooms, I nodded and smiled vaguely whenever someone said anything I didn’t hear. I beamed when people praised my clear speech (due to years of intensive speech therapy) and told me they’d had no idea I was deaf until they caught me covertly changing my batteries in the bathroom. The more I “passed” as hearing, the better I was doing.

Passing is hard. It’s exhausting. It raises the stakes that much higher when you “let slip” that you’re not just like everyone else.

By focusing on “passing” as non-disabled, rather than speaking up and educating the people around me, I wasn’t doing anything to help myself or other people with disabilities. I had internalized the idea that “normal” was good and “disability” was bad, and, in a vicious cycle, had continued to perpetuate it.

Continue reading “Breaking the Cycle of “Passing””

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