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Fellows Blog Series

Heidi Daroff: Using Social Media to Inform and Campaign

Heidi Daroff with RespectAbility staff and Fellows in front of the RespectAbility banner

Heidi Daroff with RespectAbility staff and Fellows

Rockville, Maryland, Jan. 26 – We are living in the age of social media overload – cluttered feeds with inspiration porn and scattered-brain content that lacks effective communication with us, the audience. Heidi Krizer Daroff, North American Director for the Israel Forever Foundation and current board member of RespectAbility, spoke to RespectAbility’s Fellows and staff about how to stay ahead of the curve and effectively communicate our message. She revealed that the secret in communicating the age of social media lies in understanding our social media channels and prioritizing a few key topics rather than trying to cover a variety of issues. [continue reading…]

RespectAbility Recommends New Strategies to Promote the Success of Youth with Disabilities on Benefits

RespectAbility Submits Comments to the Social Security Administration in Response to Request for Information on Strategies to Improve Adult Outcomes for Youth Receiving Supplemental Security Income (SSI)

Rockville, Md., Jan. 26 – RespectAbility, a nonprofit organization fighting stigmas and advancing opportunities for people with disabilities, submitted the following comments to the Social Security Administration in response to their Request for Information (RFI) to elicit ideas, strategies, and best practices related to improving adult economic outcomes for youth aged 14 to 25 with disabilities receiving Supplemental Security Income (SSI). We are a national, non-partisan, nonprofit organization fighting stigmas and advancing opportunities for and with people with disabilities. We advocate for the 1-in-5 Americans who have a physical, intellectual, sensory, learning, attention, mental health or other disability. This includes 6 million students with diagnosed disabilities who are enrolled in America’s public schools. We invited SSA to sustain its commitment to improving outcomes for youth with disabilities by considering the range of best practices that are achieving transformative results.  [continue reading…]

The Fosters Tackles Low Expectations for Students with Disabilities

Images of the characters from The Fosters with the text: The Fosters, Freeform

The Fosters

Rockville, Md., Jan. 20 – Season five of The Fosters returned with a bang – tackling issues from low expectations for students with disabilities to immigration rights.

Last season one of the leading characters, Jesus, had a traumatic brain injury (TBI). The show did a good job conveying how a person might change after experiencing a TBI. The show also shares how TBI affects the relationships between family and friends for people who have a TBI.

On the first day back at school this season, his teachers have lower expectations for Jesus, giving him less homework and more flexibility with test taking. He also is made fun of by his classmates, one saying he wished he had been hit in the head to receive the “benefits” Jesus is getting.

[continue reading…]

The Harbor Regional Center: Serving People with Developmental Disabilities Throughout Life

A sign outside the Harbor Regional Center with the center's logoLong Beach, Calif., Dec. 19 – Directly in the hub of Los Angeles, California sits the Harbor Regional Center (HRC), an organization local to California that strives to make every resident, family and neighbor feel welcome, wanted and productive. And this doesn’t just end in Los Angeles.

HRC is a state-funded organization that provides services to individuals with developmental disabilities and their families within the southeast areas of California. It is just one of 21 other facilities that can be found across California. The services that each center provides begin with a person’s conception and last a lifetime, ranging from providing pregnant mothers with care to assisting students with disabilities find employment to providing services to elderly individuals with disabilities.

“Sometimes people may have a troubled pregnancy and we follow them until age three, at which time the child can be tested for autism or other disabilities,” says Rick Travis, the manager of the health, service and employment team.

[continue reading…]

Southern California Resource Services for Independent Living Paves a Pathway for Youth with Disabilities in Long Beach

The logo for Southern California Resource Services for Independent LivingLong Beach, Calif., Dec. 12 – California Resource Services for Independent Living (SCRS-IL) is making sure that people with disabilities are able to live healthy, independent and productive lives.

“As a person with a disability, I think it is very important to know how to navigate our systems. Sometimes these systems are there to help us,” said Jose Gonzalez, who serves as the Youth Transition Specialist at SCRS-IL.

SCRS-IL was founded in 1979 by individuals with disabilities.

“It was a belief in the prophesy that everyone had a future, which gave birth to SCRS understanding that people with disabilities are the forefront of empowering other people with disabilities,” said Gonzalez.

[continue reading…]

RespectAbility Board Member Eleanor Clift Talks About Her Journalism and Philanthropy Journey

headshot of Eleanor Clift smiling and facing the camera wearing hoop earrings color photo

Eleanor Clift

Rockville, Md., Nov. 27 – Recently RespectAbility Board Member Eleanor Clift joined staff and Fellows for lunch, enlightening them about her journey as a journalist and in advocacy work at different nonprofit organizations including RespectAbility.

Clift began her journalism career as an intern at Newsweek during the time where the United States was going through many influential movements. The Women’s Movement of the 1970s was the reason she received the opportunity to work at Newsweek. However, the ultimate tipping point that gave her the leeway to gain the internship at Newsweek was the class act law suit the women of Newsweek in New York brought against the magazine for gender discrimination.

“What the magazine agreed to do was a class action settlement where women working at the magazine could do internships,” Clift explained. “I did do an internship and I have never taken a journalism course in my life. In fact, I never even had a college degree but, I’ve been in the magazine for years I have sort of organically learned how to do reporting so I thank the women who brought that law suit.” [continue reading…]

Ruderman Foundation Honored at Media Access Awards, Continues Work Through Inclusion Summit

Winner of the 2017 SAG-AFTRA New York Disability Awareness Award, Media Access Awards

Jason George standing at a podium with the sign Media Access Awards

Grey’s Anatomy’s Jason George

Boston, Mass., Nov. 22 — The Ruderman Family Foundation, which works to advocate for and advance the inclusion of people with disabilities throughout our society, received the SAG-AFTRA New York Disability Awareness Award at the Media Access Awards, which honors individuals who are showcasing the disability narrative accurately. SAG-AFTRA Diversity Chair Jason George accepted the award on their behalf during the ceremony in Los Angeles, Calif.

“We are sorry we couldn’t be there, but are very proud and honored by this recognition in Hollywood,” said Jay Ruderman, president of the Ruderman Family Foundation. “Thank you also to the Media Access Awards and all other partners and collaborators in Hollywood who are moving the needle on disability inclusion.”

Ruderman was not present because his foundation was holding its annual Inclusion Summit in Boston that weekend.

[continue reading…]

The Regional Hispanic Chamber of Commerce in Long Beach

Long Beach, CA – The Regional Hispanic Chamber of Commerce was created in 2000, when several business leaders realized the enormous potential of the Hispanic business community in the Southern California region and detected the need for a regional organization to represent their interests in the public and private sectors.  The mission of the RHCC is to promote and facilitate the success of businesses in the California region and its commercial areas.

The RHCC in Long Beach is managed by Sandy Cajas, a woman who confesses to have graduated at 37 years of age. Her success proves that anything is possible with enough hard work and perseverance.

The RHCC works hard to address the problems and concerns of Hispanic-owned businesses. The Chamber’s responsibilities include:

  • Implementing and strengthening regional programs that assist the economic development of firms;
  • Increasing business relationships and partnerships between the corporate sector and businesses;
  • Promoting international trade between Hispanic businesses in the United States and Latin America;
  • Monitoring legislation, policies and programs that affect the business community;
  • providing technical assistance to entrepreneurs.

In addition to being president and CEO of the Regional Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (RHCC), Sandy Cajas also founded the Regional Hispanic Institute (RHI). The Institute was created with the mission of giving entrepreneurs an alternative for life preparation and life-long learning by developing and implementing initiatives and educational campaigns that awaken and nurture their entrepreneurial spirit. This is accomplished through mentoring students from the California State University system, with an emphasis on being the bridge between the corporate and student community.

Since its inception, the Regional Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, along with the Regional Hispanic Institute, has developed many programs to Enhance, Improve and Educate the Southern California Business Community.

The Líderes Regional Mentorship Program was created to increase opportunities for university students. Its goal is to support and nurture young leadership in all sectors of society. It focuses on making stronger connections and linking young leaders with high-ranking officers in a wide variety of fields. The intent is to allow students to gain valuable insight into what it takes to be successful and to begin building a strong network.

The Regional Hispanic Institute Leaders Council is a program created for California State University Long Beach Students and Graduates that have been part of the Regional Líderes Mentorship Program. The program will maximize their influence as leaders in the Southern California commercial region. Students and Recent Graduates serve on the Regional Hispanic Institute Leaders Council for two years with the option to continue at the end of the second year. Each student receives a stipend for the volunteering hours he or she serves.

The Mujeres del Año Awards have been given out every year since 2003. The Regional Hispanic Institute hosts a Gala event that celebrates the outstanding demonstration of Character, Commitment, Civility, Community, and Citizenship of Mujeres in the Long Beach area. People from a broad group of disciplines and areas win awards in several categories that benefit our community.

The Regional Hispanic Chamber of Commerce has a Non-Discrimination Policy. They provide equal employment opportunity to qualified individuals regardless of race, color, sex, national origin, citizenship, religion, age, disability, veteran status, sexual orientation, gender identity or marital status.

Sandy Cajas loves the phrase “Follow your dreams, think about all the people who said it would never happen, and go out and prove them wrong!” She has certainly achieved her goals, and she is working hard to ensure that young people in the Long Beach area can succeed as well.

LEARN MORE ABOUT RESPECTABILITY’S LONG BEACH COMMUNITY OF PRACTICE

Mickey Rowe Awarded for Becoming First Actor with Autism to Perform in The Curious Incident of the Dog in The Night-Time

Winner of the 2017 Christopher Reeve Acting Scholarship, Media Access Awards

Mickey Rowe accepting his Media Access scholarship award

Mickey Rowe accepting his Media Access scholarship award

Beverly Hills, Nov. 18 – If you see a man walking down the streets of Seattle with a blue V-neck t-shirt with no coat or jack and with headphones in his ears, then you may have spotted actor Mickey Rowe.

He is the first actor with autism to play the leading role in the Indiana Repertory Theatre and Syracuse Stage production of the Tony-winning Best Play The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time and received the 2017 Christopher Reeve Acting Scholarship at the Media Access Awards this year. The ceremony honors individuals who are showcasing the disability narrative.

“This has been such an amazing year for disability all over in the media and I am so honored to get to be here today,” Rowe said while accepting the award. “I cannot wait to see what the next year and the next decade has for people with disabilities and inclusion of people with disabilities.”

[continue reading…]

Actress and Paralympic Katy Sullivan Presents Award to Mickey Rowe at the Media Access Awards

Katy Sullivan presenting the award - prosthetic legs are visible

Katy Sullivan presenting the award

Beverly Hills, Nov. 18 – Actress and track and field Paralympic Katy Sullivan presented the 2017 Christopher Reeve Acting Scholarship to Mickey Rowe at the Media Access Awards, which honors individuals who are showcasing the disability narrative.

Sullivan is known for being a writer, producer, athlete and a bilateral above knee amputee. She was born and raised in Alabama and received her BFA in Acting from Webster University’s Conservatory in St. Louis.

As an actress she is known for her performances around the nation including The Long Red Road at The Goodman Theatre directed by Philip Seymour Hoffman. She also has made appearances on television shows, independent films and documentaries such as the award-winning documentary WALK ON.

[continue reading…]

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