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RespectAbilityUSA & DCJCC Announce New Community Service Opportunities for Middle and High Schoolers With Disabilities

Washington, D.C. – The Washington DCJCC, with more than 25 years of proven leadership in providing safe outstanding volunteer service opportunities, and RespectAbilityUSA, a non-profit organization working to empower people with disabilities to achieve the American dream, are thrilled to announce the formation of community service opportunities for Washington area Middle and High School students with disabilities.

The non-sectarian program will be staffed by professionals who are CPR certified and work during the school year in the Montgomery County Public School (MCPS) programs for children with Asperger’s, but will be open to students 11 years old and up with all disabilities. Mr. Ricky Tippett will lead the program at each community service site. Mr. Tippett has years of experience coaching a diverse group of students, both middle school and high school aged at MCPS and at Georgetown Preparatory Academy.

The program will offer two three-hour blocks of service each day during two different time sessions (9 AM – noon and 1PM-4PM). The first session will be July 14-August 1st and the second session will be August 4-15th. Each session will have two teachers/para-educators and a small group of children. There will be breaks and fun time built into the sessions. Students will have the opportunity to earn community service hours in a safe and enriching environment.

We are asking parents of interested students to fill out the survey HERE in order to best match the service projects with the applicants. Space is limited as this is a pilot program that will only be able to serve approximately 12 kids over the course of the summer. Possible projects include:

•Volunteering at an animal shelter
•Preparing food for people experiencing homelessness
•Weeding and gardening at a park or community garden
•Making and decorating a free little library
•Volunteering at the food bank
•Putting together care packages for soldiers or people experiencing homelessness

“We are thrilled to start with this pilot program and look forward to expanding service opportunities yearound year around for people with disabilities.” Said Erica Steen, Director of Community Engagement at the DCJCC who will work to coordinate the volunteer projects for the students.

“This will be the first program of its kind in the Nation’s Capital and we hope it will be a model for others around the country. For far too long people have looked at people with disabilities (PwDs) as objects of pity when the fact is that they have a tremendous amount to offer and are ready and willing to serve others.” Said Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi, President of RespectAbility, who will support and promote this amazing opportunity to our community.

Meet the Author

Lauren Appelbaum

Lauren Appelbaum is the VP, Communications and Entertainment & News Media, of RespectAbility, a nonprofit organization fighting stigmas and advancing opportunities so all people with disabilities can fully participate in every aspect of community. As an individual with an acquired nonvisible disability – Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy – she works at the intersection of disability, employment, Hollywood and politics. She regularly conducts trainings on the why and how to be more inclusive and accessible for entertainment executives throughout the industry. Appelbaum partners with studios, production companies and writers’ rooms to create equitable and accessible opportunities to increase the number of people with lived disability experience throughout the overall story-telling process. These initiatives increase diverse and authentic representation of disabled people on screen, leading to systemic change in how society views and values people with disabilities. She has consulted on more than 100 TV episodes and films with A&E, Bunim-Murray Productions, NBCUniversal, Netflix, ViacomCBS, and The Walt Disney Company, among others. She represents RespectAbility on the CAA Full Story Initiative Advisory Council, Disney+ Content Advisory Council, MTV Entertainment Group Culture Code and Sundance Institute’s Allied Organization Initiative. She is the author of The Hollywood Disability Inclusion Toolkit and the creator of an innovative Lab Program for entertainment professionals with disabilities working in development, production and post-production. She is a recipient of the 2020 Roddenberry Foundation Impact Award for this Lab. To reach her, email [email protected]

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