Thank you to our “Bennies” and “Johnies”

March 31, 2016 by Kelly Smith

Spring Break Volunteers

Eleven students from St. John’s University and the College of St. Benedict in central Minnesota spent  their spring break last week volunteering at the Utah State University’s Center for Persons with Disabilities (CPD) and local  disability-related community organizations. The students, both graduate and undergraduate, are part of the Alternative Spring Break program, which pairs students according to their interests with a service spring break experience. Volunteers represented a wide range of disciplines and cited numerous reasons for their service.

“It’s a good experience to gain understanding of different people and sort of broaden your horizons,” stated one of the volunteers.

Students spent the week engaging in a wide variety  of service learning projects including a fun evening bowling with  the TOP Sports participants. Other projects included yard work at the Developmental Skills Laboratory (DSL), a day program for adults with developmental disabilities, and time spent with DSL participants in one-on-one and small group social activities. Other CPD and college projects that were the recipients of volunteer service included Project PEER: Postsecondary Education, Employment and Research, Aggies Elevated, and Up to 3 Early Intervention. Volunteers also helped community organizations, including Deseret Industries and Common Ground, including a day spent skiing and snowshoeing with youth and adults with disabilities.

Reflection time was also allotted each day for students to write their thoughts about their experiences. Local host families housed the volunteers.

More photos are available on our CPD Facebook page.

We’d like to extend a big thank you to the “Bennies” and “Johnies” !

Tags: ,

Volunteers of the Year named

December 17, 2012 by Sue Reeves

photo of Katie and Amber

Katie Lovendale (left) and Amber Hartley, CPD’s 2012 Volunteers of the Year

Katie Lovendale and Amber Hartley were named 2012 Volunteers of the Year by Utah State University’s Center for Persons with Disabilities (CPD) for their work with Aggie Advocates. The special education majors were honored at the annual Holiday Lunch with beach bags filled with CPD goodies and an engraved plaque, which will be hung at the CPD.

Aggie Advocates was formed last year with the help of Jeff Sheen, training and development specialist and volunteer coordinator at the CPD, and associate director of development Shane Johnson.

“We couldn’t have done it without the CPD,” said Lovendale, who will graduate in May. Hartley, who graduated this semester, agreed, saying, “I don’t think we would have a club without Jeff and Shane.”

Sheen and Johnson met Lovendale and Hartley at the 2011 Day on the Quad, a day of self-promotion for campus organizations at the beginning of the school year. Through a set of “fortunate circumstances,” said Sheen, they began to work together on Aggie Advocates.

Sheen said that as the CPD volunteer coordinator, one of the best parts of his job is to come across pro-active individuals like Lovendale and Hartley, who volunteered their time to make the world a better place.

“We are fortunate to have that caliber of student at USU,” Sheen said.

Lovendale and Hartley became familiar with an advocacy project being conducted by Barbara DeBoer, clinical assistant professor in the early childhood education program. Soon after, they saw a high school play about the Little Rock 9 and that group’s efforts to end racial discrimination.

“It was inspiring,” Hartley said. “We said, ‘what if we did that?’”

Lovendale said racial discrimination doesn’t seem to be so prevalent on college campuses anymore, but people with disabilities still face discrimination. There were no existing advocacy groups at USU, and the pair wanted to educate people on disability issues.

Currently, there are more than 200 names on the Aggie Advocate e-mail list, they said, although not all of them attend meetings or help with events.

According to Hartley, the Aggie Advocates hosted a Halloween carnival for the ASSERT and Up to 3 programs, as well as an event on “Spread the Word to End the Word” Day and a movie night.

This year, the group painted the pumpkins used in the Up to 3 Program’s Pumpkin Walk display, and organized a fundraiser so that a local family could buy a headstone for their daughter, who died five years ago. More than $500 was raised.

While Lovendale and Hartley are no longer part of the Aggie Advocate leadership, they are excited to see that the membership has become more diverse, with majors other than special education represented.

Tags: ,

Serving up thanks

November 7, 2012 by Sue Reeves

Volunteers are being recruited to help serve a Thanksgiving lunch to staff and participants of the Developmental Skills Lab (DSL). Organizers are hopeful that it will be beginning of an annual tradition.

The idea for the lunch resulted from a conversation between Jeff Sheen, Shane Johnson and DSL director Drake Rasmussen after the CPD’s October Brown Bag.

“It just really struck us that they’re (the DSL staff) not in our building and it’s just too easy to forget about them,” said Johnson, the CPD’s associate director of development.

“We wondered how we can help the staff over there feel more connected with the Center, because even at CPD gatherings they can’t all come,” said Sheen, CPD training and development specialist.

“We just want to provide them with a lunch, so they can literally just sit back and enjoy it,” Johnson added.

The festivities are planned for Wednesday, Nov. 14 at 11 a.m. at the Developmental Skills Lab.

Lee’s Marketplace in Logan has agreed to donate two roasted turkeys for the lunch. Donations are being accepted to cover the cost of the remaining food.

“We also need a handful of folks to serve, set up and clean up,” Sheen said.

The event is meant to show appreciation for the staff at DSL.

“It’s an expression of gratitude for what they do,” Sheen said, “a chance to get the staff from over here (at the CPD) over there to the DSL to connect.

To donate cash or to sign up to help serve the lunch, contact Sheen at 797-8113 or Johnson at 797-9070.


The Developmental Skills Laboratory (formerly known as Bear River Activity and Skill Center), is housed on the Utah State University campus and is designed to support adults with disabilities by training and maintaining the skills necessary for their greatest independence. In addition, DSL focuses on providing their participants with activities that encourage their inclusion into the community.

For more information, click here.

Tags: , ,

Big Blue’s Barn adds storage with a flair

May 15, 2012 by JoLynne Lyon

Thanks to the work of some Technology and Engineering Education students, when you visit our Developmental Playground you can now enjoy a view of this cute barn…

photo of the Big Blue's Barn shed

…from the comfort of this wooden bench.

photo of a wooden bench

The new storage shed and benches were real-world work experience for a group of students who took on the challenge of adding Aggie-themed storage to our new play area. They built the seating, too, and finished it all on time and under budget.

Thanks, students, for creating a structure that’s almost too cute to be called a storage shed.

For more on the students’ project, visit the College of Agriculture’s Main Banner blog.



Michigan volunteers help out at the CPD and the CReATE program

April 11, 2012 by JoLynne Lyon

students pose at the CReATE warehouse

For the third year in a row, the Center for Persons with Disabilities enjoyed the help of volunteers from Grand Valley State University, who came here as part of their alternative spring break.

This year, the group of nine students spent Wednesday cleaning and organizing at CReATE (Citizens Reutilizing Assistive Technology Equipment.)

When CReATE receives chairs it can’t use, parts that are usable are taken off so they can be used for other mobility devices.  The students organized these parts. You can read more about their work in the warehouse on the Utah Assistive Technology Program Blog.

They also helped out at the CPD’s  Disability Skills Laboratory–and we posted some fun pictures of that on the CPD Facebook Page.

They were the second group of midwesterners who spent their spring break with us. The first, from Minnesota’s St. Benedict and St. Johns colleges, came to us in early March. You can read about their visit in an earlier post–and check out some delightful photos from their bowling night with the Top Sports program–we put those on our Facebook page, too.