Saturday, August 22, 2009

Jessica Green was the answer to the last post. Can you guess the star of this post?

On Thursday, May 21st , 2009, Down Syndrome Indiana awarded this star and the New Albany Wal-Mart a Star Award for their outstanding efforts to advance employment opportunities for individuals with Down syndrome. This star views employment of individuals with a disability as a career changing opportunity and devotes much of his time to working with nonprofit and civic organizations. This star’s work is impressive because he wants to make sure that Wal-Mart not only hires individuals with a disability but also works with them to retain their position and to move up in the company; not just leave the challenge of long term advancement to “job coaches” from outside agencies.

This star has also led the effort to have Wal-Mart begin working with nationally known consultant, James Emmett to redesign technology at 3 Southern Indiana and 9 Kentucky Wal-Mart locations to make it more user friendly to its employees with a disability. James Emmett has also worked with such major corporations as Walgreens and Best Buy.

In addition to this, this star traveled to Washington D.C. in February 2009 and met with legislators to discuss the need for meaningful employment by individuals with a disability under the new ABLE legislation that is being proposed. He also attended a 3 day Affiliates in Action Conference to learn more about Down syndrome.

This star is a store manager for the New Albany Wal-Mart. He also serves on the board of Directors for the Down Syndrome Support Association of Southern Indiana (DSSASI). This star’s inspiration for his work on behalf of individuals with Down syndrome began with the hire of Mark Hublar, a 44 year old individual with Down syndrome that is employed full time by the New Albany store.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Can you guess this star?

For the next couple of weeks, I would like to play a game called, Can you guess this star? Each week, I will post the bio of one of DSI’s Superstar volunteers and ask you to guess who it is. I am starting you out with an easy one. So here we go, can you guess this star?

First of all, Down Syndrome Indiana is extremely proud to count this star as a member of the Down Syndrome Indiana Board of Directors. She truly exemplifies the type of leadership that we are looking for in our board members. Not only does this star understand the work that the staff carry out but she volunteers in the office on Fridays and has offered many insights that have made the organization so much stronger! For example while volunteering to assemble new parent packets, this star asked why DSI didn’t offer transition packets for Self Advocates. It was a brilliant idea! DSI families would all benefit from the type of information that would be included in the transition packet, such as, information on independent living, financial resources, safety tips, etc. I am proud to say that because of this individual Down Syndrome Indiana has formed a new partnership with a local university and hospital to create the transition packet. Not only will the packet be helpful to the Down syndrome community but it will also be helpful to the entire disability community as well and let me tell you other organizations in Indiana are excited!

Down Syndrome Indiana encourages all adults with Down syndrome to volunteer in our office on a regular basis to gain skills that would be of benefit to them upon entering the work world. Yes, just volunteering in an office is great and helpful but, Down Syndrome Indiana wanted to be able to offer a product that its advocates could be proud of and show off to the community. The office also prides itself on listening to and valuing the ideas of its Self Advocate volunteers. This star suggested that Self Advocates be given the opportunity to write, publish and distribute their own newsletter; and so in 2008, the Self Advocate’s newsletter, Ups and Downs was born! The newsletter is by and for adults with Down syndrome. This is exactly in line with the mission of DSI, which is to enhance the lives of individuals with Down syndrome. This newsletter not only gives the advocates a voice, it also helps them gain skills as they are involved in the photography, proofreading, writing of the articles, layout and printing of the publication, etc. If they didn’t already have typing or computer skills, this is a chance for adults with Down syndrome to gain those skills a little at a time in a fun environment. Best of all, when reading the articles one learns just how much more alike each advocate they are than different!!!! Or one can learn just how amazing and persistent adults that have a disability really are!

Here are a list of this star’s accomplishments:

This star was in an inclusive educational environment from preschool through high school and was the first student in Washington Township, a school district in central Indiana, to ask for full inclusion which included asking for placement in her neighborhood school.

During high school This star worked and at Barnes and Noble/ Eddie Bauer/ and two advertising agencies and one radio station. She volunteered at the YMCA in childcare and also the Humane Society during High School.

She also was a member of the THEATRE OF INCLUSION for three years. This was a production put on during the art festival each fall. Dante Francesca was the Director and the troop was made up of individuals with and without challenges.

From high school This star had the opportunity to attend Marion College. She audited classes for one year and commuted from home. She took nutrition, singing, dance, stage production, and volleyball. She also attended dances and extracurricular events there.

From there This star started working for Advantage Medical in Carmel Indiana where she currently works.

She has received the CITIZENSHIP AWARD from Noble of Indiana.

She has published an article in the magazine ABILITY.

She has attended the Building Leadership Workshop sponsored by the Indiana Institute on Disability and Community in Bloomington, Indiana.

She is a member of the ARC of Indiana.

She is a member of the National Down Syndrome Congress and was recently elected to the new Self Advocate position on the NDSC Board of Directors.

She attended the Affiliates in Action Coalition in Washington, DC and testified on behalf of two bills that effected individuals with disabilities.

She speaks publicly on the rights of individuals who have special needs.

She was responsible for getting the crosswalk buttons installed at the intersection where she lives: 86/Ditch--She wrote her representative.

Can you guess who, “this star” is?