On January 20th, program participants at the Staten Island Day Program participated in the Disabilities Studies course at the College of Staten Island, taught by Dr. David Goode. Visitors included Mike Corbett, President of the Staten Island Self-Advocacy group, Stephanie Wyler, Vice President of the Staten Island Day Habilitation Self-Advocacy Group, and Gerard Mills, outgoing President, who all shared in a spirited discussion about the disability experience.
Michael, Gerard and Stephanie addressed issues of having cerebral palsy, relationships, qualities they look for in a Direct Service Professional, the use of wheelchairs, and working within the disabilities sector.
“If you want to work with people with disabilities you have to have it in your heart,” said Mike Corbett.Mike lives in a UCP Individualized Residential Alternative (IRA) and attends Day Program on Staten Island. Mike, Stephanie and Gerard answered student’s questions in a lively Q & A that was highlighted with laughter while also outlining some of the stark realities of agency life. Accompanying them were some of UCP’s staff including: Scott Feldman, Director of Staff Training, Benjamin Rosado, Habilitation Specialist, Kelly Donovan, Habilitation Assistant, and Natalie Shaya, Treatment Coordinator.
The students asked UCP staff questions in order to understand what working in the disabilities agency is like. Some of the topics tackled were what types of jobs are suitable for new graduates, the emotional toll of working in the field and balancing compliance and safety with dignity of risk. Kelly Donovan, a graduate of the program at CUNY College of Staten Island, shared her story of having a disability and working at UCP, something that really resonated with the students. Kelly stressed to the students that she encourages each person with a disability that she works with to follow their dreams.
At the end of the class, the individuals and staff encouraged students to attend the UCP career open house on February 2, 2017. We hope that some of the undergraduates will find their way to the open house and be able to assist with creating new opportunities for the people we serve.