Celebrating 24 Years of the Americans with Disabilities Act

PYD staff at ADA Day!Martin Luther King Jr. once famously proclaimed: “I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.’” Though he was addressing a population of unjustly treated African Americans, it soon became evident that an ever-growing population of citizens with disabilities were subjected to this same degree of unfair punishment, underestimated and unprotected under the law. In 1990, President George H.W. Bush signed the Americans with Disabilities Act, paving the way for monumental steps toward the full realization of Dr. King’s dream.

Dr. King’s message was perhaps best illustrated last Thursday afternoon in Boston’s historic City Hall Plaza. Thousands of exuberant spectators gathered to commemorate the 24th anniversary of the ADA. The ceremony kicked off with a parade through the plaza; later, attendees enjoyed a day of celebration, reflection, and education. In addition to music, free food, and perfect weather, opportunities for networking were abundant. Representatives from organizations throughout the state were on hand; in addition to providing service-related information and support, they did their part to spread the message that we all can succeed.

I had the opportunity to attend last Thursday’s event with a group of young people with disabilities. While chatting with fellow attendees and enjoying the festivities, I began to reflect upon the numerous steps the community has taken toward acceptance and inclusion of people with disabilities. This is particularly true here in Massachusetts – it’s no secret that Boston is a haven when it comes to supports that enable those with disabilities to be on an equal footing. This past Thursday’s events were more than just a casual stroll through City Hall Plaza and an afternoon in the park; rather, they provided a strong community of people with the opportunity to come together and celebrate each other’s unique strengths and traits. It was truly an honor to be interspersed among such a crowd of people with all abilities. Although there is still much work to be done to make our community truly free of stigma and unacceptance, the events this past Thursday were a true illustration of the sentiment that in life, there are no barriers to success.

Participants at ADA Day

Deaf participant signing at ADA Day

Special thanks to Mark Hunt from Disability Images for the photos in this post.

Secrets to Success in the College Environment: A Personal Perspective

The fall of 2010 marked a very important turning point in my life. On a warm and muggy September morning that year, I set foot in a college classroom for the first time. I was immediately overwhelmed by nearly every aspect of the experience; nonetheless, determination and perseverance gave me the drive to continue pushing forward.

It’s hard to believe, but nearly four years have passed since my college career began; in less than one year it will all come to an end. The journey has been loaded with experiences I will never forget. Aside from making lifelong friends and enjoying fun times, challenges such as choosing courses, transferring from one school to another, living in a dorm, and completing assignments have been incredibly eye opening.

Attending college has enabled me to explore numerous subject areas and has helped considerably in narrowing down my career path. Most notably, the experience has taught me valuable lessons about advocacy and independence. These skills are essential for anyone with a disability who enters the college environment. A few key events that occurred along the way demonstrate the manner in which I learned to develop these skills.

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Youth and Family Disability Resources – July 2014

Summer in New England is in full swing–the kids are enjoying a much deserved reprieve from school and plenty of warm sunny days are in store! Still looking to keep your child active this summer? Don’t fret – Boston is packed with opportunities to get out, meet friends, and have fun! As we enter the hottest month of the year, here are some great resources to keep your mentee, child, and family entertained!

Planning a day at the beach? Visit SPED Child Mass for a detailed list of accessible pools and beaches in the area.

It may be hard to believe, but the July 4th holiday is fast approaching! Why not celebrate by enjoying a classic display of fireworks live? This guide has some great info about fireworks displays near you!

Thinking about attending the upcoming 2014 4th of July spectacular? Visit July4th.org for information about this year’s event! Be sure to arrive early and plan to enjoy a beautiful day on the Boston esplanade.

It’s not too late for your child to read his or her way to Fenway! The Boston Public Library is rewarding children who experience the joy of reading by giving them a chance to spend an unforgettable afternoon at America’s most celebrated ball park.

Does your child love music? Intro to Music, sponsored by the Boys and Girls Club of South Boston, is a unique program designed to improve communication skills through fun activities including playing instruments and composing songs. For more information and to obtain an intake form, contact Jessie Kandel, Inclusion Facilitator, at 617-516-5454 or jkandel@bgcb.org

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Perspective from a PYD Participant and Summer Intern

Tyler Terrasi, PYD's new super intern!

We are pleased to introduce our newest intern here at PYD: Tyler Terrasi, one of our long-time program participants who will be doing social media and marketing work with us over this summer. Welcome Tyler!

The fact that nearly a decade has passed since I first became aware of PYD and its services continues to blow my mind. In the fall of 2004, I considered myself to be a typical fourteen-year-old; nonetheless, I lacked many valuable skills that are crucial in order to achieve success in college and the workforce. On top of a greater social life, I—or more accurately, my mother—was in search of recreational opportunities and skills training that would increase my confidence and ultimately shape my future. After undertaking a great deal of thorough research, my mother stumbled upon the resources of Partners for Youth with Disabilities.

It was on a Wednesday morning in early October that I was first introduced to Deep Chinappa, the coordinator for PYD’s Making Healthy Connections and Access to Theatre programs. Though extremely apprehensive, I was talked in to attending my first Making Healthy Connections meeting later that month. Thus began a decade filled with a plethora of physical activities and social opportunities — experiences which have enabled me to grow as an individual and have aided in the pursuit of my personal goals.
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