The Center for Persons with Disabilities at Utah State University

Jewkes’ “other life” includes photography

July 8, 2014 by Sue Reeves

Image of iris and daisy.

Jewkes: Irises and daisies do bloom at the same time.

A childhood interest in photography has become a lifelong hobby for Richard Jewkes, senior business officer at Utah State University’s Center for Persons with Disabilities.

“I had a Boy Scout leader who took pictures of everything we did, and showed slide shows of all out activities at the Courts of Honor,” he said. “I thought, ‘If he can take those pictures, I can too.”

Jewkes got a Canon AE-1 camera and shot Kodachrome slide film during a Scout trip to Washington, D.C. during his sophomore year in high school.  He’s never taken a class in photography, but enjoys shooting photos of the outdoors, landscapes, nature, and his current infatuation: flowers.

“My enjoyment comes from the outdoors,” he said, noting his favorite photograph that documented the fact that yes, irises and daisies do bloom at the same time.

The Canon film camera has evolved to a Nikon digital camera. For a while after he got it, he said, it went everywhere he did as he documented the people and things in his world.

Most of his work is in color, although he does occasionally convert the digital files to black-and-white using free Picasa photo editing software. Most of the photos are archived online in Google+ or on Facebook, he said

“It’s not fancy or feature-rich, but it meets my needs,” he said.

Jewkes gets inspired by looking at other people’s photography, and last summer took on a family-tree photo shoot at Bear Lake.

“I found a big huge cottonwood tree and had all the kids climb up and hang on the tree,” he said. He made it into a large 36-inch print and gave it to his parents.

His newest photography adventure was a trip to Europe with his son during the first part of June.

“My son asked for a camera for his birthday,” Jewkes said. “We’re going to make it a competition.”


Heidi’s Happenings: New friends and lots of fun!

July 1, 2014 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 Brooke

Brooke helps with snack time for the day program!

At DSL, June was bustin’ busy for Heidi Sue Subaru and her buds.  Everyone just had fun doing science projects on campus. Then we went in three vans downhill to this one public library to check out, and return books we’ve read, and ”Reading Rainbow” flicks to closely listen to and view.

Another day we did something with balloons outdoors. Most of all, we enjoyed tie-dying pillowcases and-shirts. We also did other projects, on campus. We made plastic bags of ”trail mix” for dads to munch on for Father’s Day.

We also got to go swimming for the first time this year! Those who went sure did enjoy getting into that cool water and playing with the swimming pool toys!

We also have a new friend, Kate, who is an intern who is helping us learn about all different kinds of safety.

We have a new participant in the day program, Mandy. Mandy loves Garth Brooks! She sure is a lot of fun, and we are happy to have her!  We also have Kade, who graduated from summer program and is now downstairs with us. Our program is growing!

Summer program started on June 2 and they have been very busy too.  They go on one activity a week with Common Ground, they go swimming once a week, and they had their own science day.

Brooke is in charge of snack time this summer for summer program and she is really enjoying it and she is a big help to the staff. They call Brooke the “snack staff!”

We have been busy upstairs and downstairs at the DSL worksite!

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Economist visits NM six times in four months

June 24, 2014 by Sue Reeves

image of Mustafa Karakaplan

Mustafa Karakaplan

Mustafa Karakaplan, co-investigator and cost-benefit study lead for the Start Smart project, visited New Mexico five times during his first three months of employment at Utah State University’s Center for Persons with Disabilities. Start Smart, a project of the CPD, measures the outcomes of children in New Mexico who receive an extra 25 days of school for grades K-3.

Karakaplan received a Ph.D. in economics from Texas A&M and had worked in San Marcos at Texas State University before moving to Corvallis, OR. He and his wife, Sunny, spent six months in Corvallis before moving to Logan at the end of February.

“Utah is a better home for us,” he said. “It suits us better. We love the people.”

The couple, originally from Turkey, also love the Utah weather.

“In Turkey, there are four seasons,” Karakaplan said. “We’re kind of used to snow. I don’t think it will be an issue.

Data for the Start Smart project is collected in New Mexico, so Karakaplan has made several visits and found the cities to be as varied as the landscape.

“It has been an experience I didn’t expect to see in the United States,” he said.

Karakaplan’s first visit to the state was during the move from San Marcos to Corvallis.

“After El Paso, the landscape looks very different,” he said. “It looks really poor. Texas is really rich, but New Mexico is like a contrast to that. You feel the poorness when you cross the border.”

His first trip for Start Smart came two weeks after he started working at the CPD, with a visit to Albuquerque.

“It looks like a midsize to large U.S. city, but the Spanish architecture is really unique,” he said. “It has old-style Spanish-European style of houses.”

Santa Fe was next, and it felt very different than Albuquerque, he said.

“The streets are so small, and the buildings are so short,” he said. “They want to preserve that style. It’s very unique. I liked it. There’s no place like Santa Fe in the United States. It’s like medieval Europe or a Spanish colony in Mexico.”

Gallup is a poor town economically, Karakaplan said.

“There is nothing there in terms of resources,” he said. “It’s all desert and casinos … it felt like the edge of the world. I was curious about how they’re still here. There should be something, otherwise these people wouldn’t be here.”

Deming and Gadsden are nice, smaller towns, but again, he had the feeling of being in the middle of nowhere.

By the time he made it to Roswell, he was used to the desert, he said.

“Roswell is famous for aliens, so I was really surprised,” he said. “Roswell is really well-developed, with beautiful houses and trees everywhere. I didn’t really expect that in the middle of the desert.”

Hobbs is close to Lubbock, and smells like the oil rigs that dot the landscape, he said.

“You start feeling like you’re in Texas,” he said. “It felt like it was a Texas town, really well developed. There is huge revenue generated by the oil rigs.”

The purpose of the first round of trips, Karakaplan said, was to introduce himself to the people he will be working with.

“You wouldn’t talk about the cost of teachers and salaries with someone you wouldn’t know,” he said.

Future trips will be to gather data for the cost analysis, he said. There are two questions to be answered: first, does the summer program improve student achievement, and second, is the program cost effective.

“The cost component is crucial,” he said.


Aggies Elevated: Making history

June 20, 2014 by Sue Reeves

Image of Sarah Stone

Sarah Stone

A new pilot program, housed at the Center for Persons with Disabilities at Utah State University, will make history when the fall semester starts in August. The program, called Aggies Elevated, offers an inclusive post-secondary college experience for young adults with intellectual disabilities.

Aggies Elevated is the first program of its kind in Utah and is one of only a handful of programs west of the Rocky Mountains. The first cohort of eight students was on campus last week for Student Orientation and Registration (SOAR) and will return in August to begin working on a two-year certificate that will emphasize independent living skills and employment opportunities.

The students were chosen through a rigorous application and interview process. They will live in on-campus housing and attend inclusive classes with their neurotypical peers.

Sarah Stone, a Cache Valley native and a graduate of USU’s special education transition specialist master’s program, is the director of Aggies Elevated. She also earned her undergraduate degree in special education with an emphasis on severe disabilities at USU. She taught for a total of five years in the special education life skills classroom at Sky View High School in Smithfield, and for one year at Birch Creek Elementary School, also in Smithfield.

“I’ve been working with people with disabilities since middle school,” Stone said. “It’s been a passion of mine for a long time.”

Stone said the students who have been accepted into the program

The program will also give back to the university, Stone said, by supporting the Disability Resource Center and the Academic Resource center to serve the “in-betweeners,” or students who may not be eligible for accommodations, but still need a little bit of support.

“We can offer support and accommodations for professors and students to make their education experience as successful as possible,” she said.

Stone said the Aggies Elevated students will face the same challenges as any other college freshman.

“They’re just like any other student,” she said. “They’ll be learning and growing, learning how to read body language, and like any other freshman, they’ll struggle with homesickness, waking up on time and getting to class on time.”

Peer mentors and tutors will provide support to the students as needed.

The Aggies Elevated program space, located in CPD 174, will be sort of like a “home room,” Stone, said—a safe space where the students can ask questions and know they’re welcome. Study groups, which will supplement what is being taught in classes, will meet there, and students can practice social skills in an informal way.


For more information on Aggies Elevated, click here.

Follow Aggies Elevated on Facebook here.

View “Aggies Elevated: Opportunity” on YouTube here.



CAC Corner: Art is essential

June 19, 2014 by Sue Reeves

By James D. Kreutzberg, executive director
Cache Valley Center for the Arts

19142961.thbThe life of the arts, far from being an interruption, a distraction in the life of the nation, is very close to the center of a nation’s purpose – and it is the test of the quality of a nation’s civilization. –JOHN F. KENNEDY

I believe the arts are essential to the life of a nation. It is therefore essential the arts are accessible to all. There are many arts organization committed to welcoming everyone. I am highlighting Art Access of Salt Lake City. Take a few minutes to review their 12 programs dedicated to access and inclusion. If you are inspired as I am by their work, share this information with groups in your community.

Art Access conducts twelve mission-driven programs yearly, which are described briefly below:

(1) Art Access Gallery is an access point through which artists with disabilities can join the mainstream arts community by exhibiting their artwork together with artists without disabilities. It is also an important way for patrons to further develop an understanding of people with disabilities and disability issues in Utah.

Our visual arts workshops – (2) Kindred Spirits, (3) Teen, (4) Adult, and (5) Veterans – are taught by professional artists and enable participants of all ages and abilities to create art in an inclusive and accessible environment.

(6) Our Partners professional artist mentoring program matches emerging artists with disabilities or those with limited access to the arts one-on-one with professional artist mentors.

(7) Our Artist Residencies bring arts professionals to facilities such as rehabilitation centers, care centers, senior centers, and other service venues.

(8) Our Integrated Arts in Utah Schools program provides arts education services to students, ages 3 to 22, who receive special education services in Utah schools and in other disability service venues.

(9) Our Literary Arts program provides creative writing workshops in facilities where adults and teens with disabilities live or gather, runs a community writing group, produces an annual literary magazine, and conducts a disability and literature book group.

(10) Our Theatre Arts program seeks to educate the public to respect differences through plays produced by our partner, PYGmalion Productions.

(11) We loan our Permanent Collection of artwork by Utah artists with disabilities to community organizations.

(12) Finally, Everyone Welcome, a training program for docents and staff at Utah cultural facilities, focuses on accessibility and inclusion.