The Center for Persons with Disabilities at Utah State University

Distinguished guests from Morocco visit CPD

October 17, 2014 by Sue Reeves

Mohamed Knidiri (left) and colleague visit with Vonda Jump and Bryce Fifield of the CPD.

Mohamed Knidiri (left) and colleague visit with Vonda Jump and Bryce Fifield of the CPD.

The Center for Persons with Disabilities recently hosted Dr. Mohamed Knidiri, the former Minister of Education for the Kingdom of Morocco, to discuss plans for a specialized neuro-rehabilitation center in Marrakech City, Morocco and the possibility of collaboration.

Knidiri, who is currently the president of the Private University of Marrakech and president of Association Le Grand Atlas, a non-governmental organization (NGO), is a highly regarded researcher in neuroplasticity. He has formally invited the CPD to collaborate with his proposed rehabilitation facility, and hopes that some of his staff will be able to obtain visas to come to the CPD to learn from the professionals here.

Dr. Bryce Fifield, director of the CPD, welcomed Knidiri, saying, “We are so honored to have you visit. We’re delighted to have you at the CPD.”

CPD researchers Vonda Jump and Mark Innocenti, CPD assistant director Cyndi Rowland, and Vicki Simonsmeier from the clinical services division also attended the meeting.

Knidiri hopes to raise $5 million over the next two years to build the first neuro-rehabilitation facility on the African continent. His clinic is currently housed in donated space in a medical center in Marakesh. It began operations in June of this year, treating 50 patients with a wide range of conditions including stroke, traumatic brain injury, spinal cord injury and children with congenital neurological conditions.

“The main reason we are here is cooperation and exchange of ideas,” Knidiri said. “We need partnerships to make it larger, and I hope we will have the chance to work together.”


Heidi’s Happenings: A Visit to the Fire Station

October 15, 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 woman in party hat.

We celebrated Marla’s birthday in September!

This month at the DSL worksite we had lots of fun! We celebrated many birthdays in September!

Heidi Sue and the buds were able to visit one fire station. When Heidi and the buds had reached this brick building, they saw some really long fire poles. They also saw some really long silver fire ladders. Everyone who went down there asked the crewmembers about how they can quickly save lives of people in traffic accidents. Heidi Sue watched how the Jaws of Life worked!

We also had one barbeque with Common Ground Outdoor Adventures. It was lots of fun and we had lots of hamburgers and hotdogs.

We also had another great party just ‘neath this six-poled pavilion. When all of the buds just were clustered outdoors, they heard their family members directly pull in. All the food really was super good. We had hot dogs and chili and lots of yummy food. It was great that our family members could join us for that pavilion opening. We are very happy that now we have a groovy pavilion right outside our worksite doorstep.

We also did window art in September, and it was lots of fun. We did food fun and made yogurt parfaits. We are excited for apples, and the Pumpkin Walk in October!

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DSL plans holiday cookbook

October 13, 2014 by Sue Reeves

30877704.thbStaff at the Developmental Skills Lab will be creating a Christmas cookbook for friends and family, and they need your help!

“We would appreciate your family favorite recipes,” said DSL staff member Daurie Bastian. “ Whether healthy, sweet, comforting–any and all recipes will be welcome!  They don’t have to be Christmas recipes, but please include your Christmas recipes!

Our participants love cooking, and I know they would love to share recipes with their friends and families.”

Bastian asks contributors to e-mail at least five recipes to her by October 31. Include your name, relationship to the DSL or to a participant, and the story behind the recipe. The cookbooks will be given out at the annual DSL Christmas Party as a gift from the participants.

“I hope you will participate in this fun project,” Bastian said. “I know I love recipes, and I would love to have a collection from the ‘DSL Worksite,’ as Heidi Sue would say! Ok, on your mark, get set, send me recipes!”

Send your recipes to Bastian at


RISE, Inc. receives Community Investment Award

October 10, 2014 by Sue Reeves

Image of people receiving check.

From left: CPD Director Bryce Fifield, RISE Director Brenda McKee, Kenneth Miler from Cache Valley Bank, CAC member Sonjia Naron and RISE staff member Steven Larson.

RISE, Inc., was recently named the recipient of the Community Investment Award, given by the Consumer Advisory Council of Utah State University’s Center for Persons with Disabilities.

The CAC consists of 15 members: five family members of persons with disabilities, five members of state agencies or service providers who work with persons with disabilities, and five self-advocates. The CAC meets twice a year for feedback and guidance on CPD programs.

RISE, Inc., was nominated by CAC member Sonjia Naron, the fiscal and human resources manager at Red Rock Center for Independence in St. George. In her nomination letter, Naron said, “RISE is a nonprofit organization that specializes in home and community-based support services for children and adults with developmental and other disabilities, children with mental health challenges, and aging adults.

“I believe RISE has a very strong program and could benefit from the Community Investment Award. I especially like their day program and found the personnel to be very good and helpful. They also have a strong employment program that utilizes a discovery process to identify the individual’s interests, aptitudes, capabilities, and preferences before pursuing any employment options. RISE believes that all people should have the opportunity for meaningful work and equitable pay. RISE offers Supported Employment for individuals who receive funding through Vocational Rehabilitation (VR), the Division of Services for People with Disabilities (DSPD), and other funding sources.”

According to CPD director Bryce Fifield, the Community Investment Award is an opportunity to acknowledge agencies that serve the disability community. Twice a year, the council goes through the nomination and voting process, and the self-advocates choose the winner.

“They learn to negotiate, make challenging decisions and good choices,” Fifield said. “This go-round we had eight nominations, and the self-advocates got together to dicker and decide who’s doing the best job.”

Cache Valley Bank has committed to providing the funds for this and future Community Investment Awards.

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CAC Corner: Is your character showing?

October 8, 2014 by Sue Reeves

By Mathew Bone Image of man with arms folded

Some disabilities have very visible clues, while others do not.

If we happen to see someone who is looking confused or uncertain, chances are we have an opportunity to help someone if we will just take the time to ask them if we can help. The confusion or uncertainty may not be related to a physical or mental disability, but it may be they are in an area they are unfamiliar with.

Either way, stopping to offer help shows our character. Willingness to take time, even if we are in a hurry, is something that lets people around us know what kind of a person we are. One thing I have learned is to not to be surprised at who might stop to offer help. Often people others would judge harshly will stop and offer assistance when we will hurry past.

Too often in our society the biggest disability we see is the social stigma disability or lack of caring disability. Both of these can be very severe disabilities that can become even more pronounced when they surface online. Sadly, they are the kind of disabilities that do not need to exist. They are entirely preventable and can be easily cured.

Society has done a great deal in recent years to change attitudes related to people with disabilities. That progress has not been easy, but it has been worthwhile. There is still work to be done, but at least at this point the conversations are happening that will allow the change to progress

One of the leading organizations in this change in Utah is the Center for Persons with Disabilities. Now, if you are wondering what you can do to help, stop by and see if there are opportunities to volunteer, or, when you see a person who looks like they could use a moment of your time, stop and ask.  You might make a great friend or help someone who could really use it.