Holiday reading list from the CPD

December 20, 2013 by Sue Reeves

Image of Selina and her dad.

Selena and her dad share a smile after she gives
her wheelchair a test run. The chair was provided by CReATE and given to Selena by school district staff.

The CPD blog will be on holiday until January, but never fear—the 2013 CPD Holiday Reading List is here! And don’t worry, there won’t be a test. We’ve gathered blog posts and featured stories so you can explore several specific topics more in-depth. And if you’re in a social media mood, check out our Facebook page, “like” it if you haven’t already, and read the stories from other media that have been shared there.


Mom: ‘It was the first time she asked for anything’

ASSERT celebrates 10 years of success

CPD clinic offers interdisciplinary evaluation of autism

URLEND trainees prepare for hands-on ASSERT experience

Torres wins RGS seed grant

Changing behavior to change lives

CPD’s Torres presents seminar at Johns Hopkins

Assistive Technology

Making miracles in the AT lab

Getting assistive technology to people in need

Students change direction after service-learning experiences

Girl receives the gift of independence from CReATE

Wheelchair is freedom to those who use it

CReATE re-launches with new focus, larger selection

AgrAbility helps farmers and ranchers with disabilities

Engineering students build automated pill dispenser

CPD Divisions

Exemplary Services offers early intervention and more

Biomedical Division focuses on research, patient care

Real-world training for students enhances the University experience

Working professionals benefit from CPD training

Spreading the word about CPD research, activities and people

TAESE takes the hassle out of conference planning

2013 Recognition by CPD

CPD welcomes six new faculty fellows

UCC recognized as 2013 Community Partner of the Year

CPD employees honored for service

Congratulations to the 2013 CPD Volunteers of the Year

Phillips named 2013 Student of the Year

As always, we invite your comments on anything you see here.

From the CPD family to yours, have a very happy holiday season. The CPD blog will return on Jan. 6, 2014.

Heidi’s Happenings: Food, food and food!

December 18, 2013 by Sue Reeves

Heidi Hill is a guest blogger for the CPD’s Developmental Skills Laboratory (DSL), a day program for adults with disabilities. Heidi loves to type and each month she’ll be sharing the fun activities that she and her “buds” are doing at DSL.

Image of food at food pantry

Heidi and her buds from the DSL delivered food donations to the local food pantry in November.

During the month of November, the buds down at DSL were able to go see a movie, have a Thanksgiving feast, and drop food off at the local food pantry. The movie, Free Birds, was a good one! Heidi’s favorite part was when the people in the movie tried to chase the turkey across the yard. She really laughed hard during that scene. Heidi and her buds laughed and enjoyed popcorn together as they enjoyed the movie. Afterwards Heidi and her friends thanked the people at the theater for letting them come and see the movie and for the yummy popcorn.

We had a Thanksgiving feast this month on the 25th. It sure was a yummy one! Heidi brought cupcakes along with the traditional Thanksgiving food to celebrate her 50th birthday, which was that day! We had mashed potatoes, gravy, stuffing, rolls, turkey, and pumpkin pie. The buds down at the work site sure had fun celebrating Thanksgiving that day. It sure was a fantastic Thanksgiving!

The buds at DSL donated tons of food to the food pantry for those who do not have any food for themselves. We got into the vans and headed down to drop off those cans and boxes of food. The guys and gals down at that building thanked Heid and her buds for donating and the buds said they were more than happy to donate food. Before the bus left to come back up to the work site on the USU campus they wanted to wish the people at the food pantry a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. The work site buds said that they wouldn’t ever forget those people down at the food pantry and that they’ll see them in 2014!

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UCC recognized as 2013 Community Partner of the Year

December 16, 2013 by Sue Reeves

Image of people with award

From left: Community Partner of the Year award winners Kate Stephens, Ron Vance, and Sean Damitz.

The Center for Persons with Disabilities at Utah State University has named the Utah Conservation Corps as the 2013 Community Partner of the Year. Sean Damitz, UCC department director, Kate Stephens, program director, and Ron Vance from the U.S. Forest Service accepted the award at the Logan Ranger District office on Friday, Dec. 13.

The UCC was honored for developing fully inclusive crews that have performed accessibility surveys for the Forest Service, as well as for the creation on an inclusion toolkit that has been distributed to every Service and Conservation Corps unit in the United States. The toolkit was funded by a grant from the Mitsubishi Electric America Foundation and supported by the CPD, The Corps Network and the Utah Commission on Volunteers.

“This is a really neat project,” said CPD director Bryce Fifield during the presentation. “There are two ways that really big things happen: you pass a law and what you get is accessible picnic tables in a graveled area, or you have a situation like this, where there is a collision of a person in need and a champion. You have to have people who say, ‘this can happen.’”

Stephens and former UCC crew leader Andy Zimmer developed the inclusive crew project in 2007 after a 2005 bicycle accident left Zimmer with a spinal cord injury and paralysis from the chest down. At the time of his injury, he was within 300 hours of finishing a 1700 hour AmeriCorps term of service for the UCC.

“Andy was pretty amazing,” Stephens said. “There was no dip in morale during rehab, and he almost immediately started the conversation ‘how can I get back outdoors?’ It made us look at our program, and really gave us that initial kick.

“Initially, we made it up as we went,” Stephens said. “It’s still in its infancy, and there’s a lot of work to be done.”

Before joining the UCC, Stephens founded Common Ground Outdoor Adventures in Logan, a non-profit that provides adaptive outdoor recreation opportunities for people of all abilities, so she had experience with adaptive programs and getting people with disabilities into the outdoors.

“Living in a tent, spending every day outside, working on conservation projects, and being part of a close-knit team … this is what the crew experience is all about,” she said. “This is the life that Andy had come to love and wanted to return to. He also wanted share this experience with other people with disabilities.”

While Zimmer could no longer swing an axe, he still possessed the qualities that made him a good crew leader, Stephens said. The inclusive crew was carefully developed to include crew members with disabilities in a significant and meaningful way. Zimmer returned to the UCC in the summer of 2007 and served as a leader of the first inclusive crew.

Jordan Pease, a social work major at USU, was a member of one of the first inclusive crews and is currently doing at internship with Common Ground.

“I had the opportunity because of my disability to be the guinea pig,” he said. “I’d test the bathrooms and test the trails, on both my crutches and my power chair, to get two perspectives. Accessibility isn’t a one-way street. There are all kinds of varying abilities. What’s accessible to wheelchairs may not fit crutches or someone who is blind.”

The inclusive crews have conducted accessibility surveys for the Forest Service, tested the accessibility of a Forest Service database, helped develop and test an iPad app that provides information about the true accessibility of campsites, and developed the accessibility portion of a community garden.

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Santa’s elves can be found in the PEER classroom

December 13, 2013 by Sue Reeves

Image of group of students

PEER students packaged treats for the DSL participants.

Curious to know what Santa’s workshop looks like around this time of year? Just check out the Project PEER (Postsecondary Education, Employment and Research) classroom at Utah State University’s Center for Persons with Disabilities.

Every holiday season, PEER students volunteer to wrap gifts for the CPD’s Giving Tree, and employees can even bring their personal gifts in to be wrapped. This year, however, the students added a special task: packaging treat boxes for participants in another CPD program, the Developmental Skills Lab. The DSL is a day program for adults with moderate to severe disabilities.

Volunteer cookie bakers and treat makers produced 24 dozen goodies and delivered them to the PEER classroom Thursday morning to be packaged. But the planning had started long before.

PEER student Amanda Ralphs has been learning how to organize—herself, her schedule, and now, a larger scale project.

image of Amanda and her notebook

Amanda Ralphs

“There was lots of prep to do,” she said, “planning out stuff ahead so we will be ready.”

As the treats were being delivered to the classroom Thursday morning, Ralphs was there with a notebook and pen and a carefully crafted diagram of what was supposed to go where. Then she and another student assembled the boxes and numbered them to match the diagram. The boxes were lined with red and green tissue paper.

“Then we grabbed the treats and started putting them into boxes,” she said. “It was actually pretty easy, and it didn’t take a long time.”

In fact, the students were long finished by the time a photographer stopped by to get some pictures.

The treat boxes will be delivered to the DSL participants this afternoon.

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Girl receives the gift of independence from CReATE

December 11, 2013 by Sue Reeves

Image of Selina and her dad.

Selena and her dad share a smile after she gives
her wheelchair a test run.

Selena Perez thought she was coming to a routine meeting with her parents at her school. Instead she was wheeled into the media center at Willow Valley Middle School to discover a new-to-her motorized wheelchair—and the small crowd of people who came together to make it possible.

The sight moved her to tears. Through an interpreter she asked if it was to be used only at school. The answer came back: she could use it at home, too.

Selena’s family is from Mexico. She has used a wheelchair for most of her life.

The refurbished chair was made possible by staff members of the Cache County School District Office and CReATE, a nonprofit organization under the Utah Assistive Technology Program that puts affordable mobility devices into the hands of Utahns who need it.

CReATE is part of the Center for Persons with Disabilities and the Emma Eccles Jones College of Education and Human Services at Utah State University. Staff members from the Cache County School District Office contacted the program and contributed to the cost of the motorized chair.

District special education director Joel Allred said Selina was doing well in school, but the people at the district office wanted her to have more independence. Until that day, she had needed an aide to push her from class to class.

“It’s very nice,” she said in a quiet moment, after posing for pictures and taking her first turn around the room. “I’ll be able to go to the kitchen when I want a drink.”

“We won’t be battling with the wheelchair to move her from one spot to another,” her father said through an interpreter. “Now her self-esteem will increase because she can move herself around.”

This story was written by JoLynne Lyon and originally appeared on the EEJ EdNotes blog on Tuesday, Dec. 10, 2013.

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