Minnesota students spend Spring Break at USU

March 12, 2012 by cpehrson

While USU students head out this week on their Spring Break, students from Minnesota go back to school after spending their Spring Break on the USU campus last week.   
Three college students at a table eating lunch







On March 4th, eleven students from the Colleges of St. Benedict and St. Johns in Minnesota arrived in Utah as part of their schools’ “Alternative Break Experiences (ABE).  ABE is a program offered by the Colleges to provide their students with exposure to other cultures, places and ways of life that will complement their academic experiences and, hopefully, inspire their lives.

CPD Volunteer Coordinator, Jeff Sheen, worked out an active schedule for each day the students were here that would give them many opportunities to help out with programs that serve people with disabilities, and connected them with host families to give them a more personal experience in the community.

College student greeting young child with a high five


Monday morning started early with a tour of the CPD and spending a little time with the children in the Up to 3 Early Intervention Program before sharing a potluck lunch with CPD staff.





The afternoon was spent out in the community helping with the Neighborhood Non-profit Housing that builds affordable housing for individuals with disabilities and low-income families. The first day ended at the bowling alley helping children with disabilities who participate in the TOPS Sports program.

A group of young adults in the snow with skis and snowshoes.

A good time was had by all!



The next two days, the students had a great time with the Common Ground Outdoor Adventures group helping community members with disabilities snowshoe and cross country ski at Logan Canyon’s Beaver Mountain Resort. This was their first time experiencing Utah’s fantastic snow and beautiful mountains!





Thursday found them down in Salt Lake City at the CReATE warehouse, a part of the Utah Assistive Technology Program, where they refurbish mobility equipment and offer them to people who need them at a discount cost.  The students, along with five employees from CReATE/AT Lab and one from DSPD, recycled 54 devices weighing 7,960 pounds, giving CReATE some recycling income. In the four hours they were there, the work accomplished would have taken CReATE staff nearly two weeks to do.  You can read more about their day on the UATP blog.

Their last day was spent helping young adult students in the PEER program practice their social skills while they played games and interacted with the volunteers.  The afternoon found them having lunch at the Developmental Skills Laboratory with older adults with disabilities and doing some fun activities with them. 

Two young adults flexing their muscles.








All in all, it was a week full of service, fun, and new friends!

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CPD staff helps Special Olympic athletes

February 15, 2012 by cpehrson

Three CPD staff with orange and blue knitted scarves

Joran Ivie, Ginger Payant, & Lynelle Chenn, CPD staff with some of the scarves they made.


Several of the staff at the CPD put their creative skills to good use this past month helping to make  colorful scarves for the Utah Special Olympic athletes.

When Lynelle Chenn found out that a scarf for every participant was needed for the upcoming Utah Special Olympics events, she spread the word around at work and found some fellow knitters and crocheters who wanted to help out.

About 300 scarves were needed for the Utah Special Olympics. Together, these CPD staff made 25 of the brilliant red and navy blue scarves. The deadline for the scarves was February 15, and they made it!



Utah’s winter Special Olympic events will begin March 3rd, with the North/Metro Nordic Area Event held at Beaver Mountain Ski Resort.  A second event, North/Metro Area Alpine Event, will be held March 10th at the Park City Mountain Resort.

There are 40 different Special Olympic Programs across the USA participating in the Special Olympics Scarf Project. All in all, their goal is to have 42,000 scarves made for the athletes to have during their state’s Winter Games, tournament, and other competitions and events held at varying time throughout the year.

Special Olympics is a global organization that serves more than 3.4 million athletes with intellectual disabilities. It provides year-round sports training and athletic competition for children and adults. These activities gives them opportunities to develop physical fitness, build skills, and experience joy as they make many new friendships.

Thanks goes to CPD Family members Bryce Fifield, Ginger Payant, Lynelle Chenn, Heidi Blake, Joran Ivie, and Kerry Done for supporting this great cause.

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Meet the 2011 Volunteer of the Year

October 27, 2011 by JoLynne Lyon

Laurie Fifield

Laurie Fifield

Laurie Fifield is the 2011 Volunteer of the Year.

If the last name sounds familiar, that’s because she’s the wife of director Bryce Fifield. She’s also a dream volunteer. “I don’t have to check up on her,” said Jeff Sheen, the CPD’s volunteer coordinator. “She’s a community member, she’s reliable, she’s consistent.”

She also helps out in one of the CPD’s more challenging places for volunteers: the Disability Skills Laboratory. It requires some dependability, since the clients there need some structure. Volunteers who work there need to undergo a background check. For many of them, working at the DSL requires a step outside the comfort zone, at least at first.

It was a step Laurie took because she wanted to volunteer, preferably at the CPD. She didn’t know what to expect at first, but it grew on her. “I know it’s worth it,” she said. “I like the reactions that I get… It’s just fun to make them smile.”

Laurie brought her experience as a preschool and second-grade teacher with her. She began helping out with outings at the DSL, but eventually the staff invited her to sing songs and tell stories once a week. She began a weekly story time in August of 2009, bringing a guitar along with her. It’s a good instrument, she said; she can face people while she sings.

With time she learned what the participants liked and built the stories and songs around themes they were interested in. Her last story time was dedicated to Halloween. On one week in September she focused on trains because she knew the participants would be riding one during a visit to the Clarke Planetarium in Salt Lake City.

Laurie’s advice to other volunteers: Stick with it. With time you will gain a better understanding of the people you serve and what works best for them.

“I think people should be encouraged to volunteer,” she said. “It helps you learn about other people and gives you a wider view of what the world is really like.”

Laurie plays a guitar during story time


Frisbees and pizza–a good way to meet the Aggie Advocates for Disability Club

September 22, 2011 by cpehrson

If you are looking for something fun to do that will bring you a lot of satisfaction along with it, come to the Quad on the USU campus tonight at 7:30 p.m. for some  glow-in-the-dark frisbee games and pizza.

That’s the fun part.  The satisfaction comes in when you join the newest club at USU, Aggie Advocates for Disability, and get to know some  people with disabilities.

The Aggie’s Advocates Club was organized this year after two Level 2 Special Ed students saw a play about discrimination and prejudice. After talking about how this is still a part of the world today, they decided to see if they could make a positive difference, at least here on the USU campus.

The description of the club on the USU website says it all:   The purpose of Aggie Advocates for Disability is to improve the lives of people with disabilities through social awareness, and to advocate for people with disabilities and their families through educating the general public, raising funds for schools, families, and organizations, and providing service.

This new club isn’t just waiting around for people to come to them.  Already they have recruited over 100 members and have organized officers and activities for the whole year!

Many have already been volunteering in some of the programs at the CPD.

Jeff Sheen, CPD Volunteer Coordinator, has been working with some of the Aggie Advocate members, introducing them to the programs that serve children and youth with disabilities at the CPD.  Programs like the PEER program, a post-secondary program for young adults, and the Disability Skills Laboratory, an adult day program for adults with disabilities.

Along with volunteering to work directly with people with disabilities, Aggies Advocates has plans to sponsor some fundraisers for programs whose funding has been cut who serve children with disabilities.  They will also be participating with the CPD during Disability Awareness Week in January, and this Saturday, they will be marching alongside the CPD’s 40th Anniversary float in the Homecoming Parade.

Through it all, they want to make campus more inclusive by organizing activities for people with and without disabilities.

Those interested in becoming a part of this amazing club can email them at aggieadvocates.usu@gmail.com to join.  For now, they will email information about their activities to members, but they will soon have a facebook account and will be posting them on it.

It seems that we are going to be hearing a lot from the Aggie Advocates for Disability Club.  Welcome to USU!











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Watch for these faces on the Quad on September 1

August 30, 2010 by JoLynne Lyon

Kelly Smith and Jeff Sheen will be on the quad at USU to answer questions on September 1.

If you are will walk through Utah State University’s Day on the Quad—or you know somebody who is—make sure you watch for these faces from the CPD on September 1. They’ll be there from 10:30 to 2:30.

Information specialist Kelly Smith and volunteer coordinator Jeff Sheen will be handing out information about our volunteer program, our undergraduate research program and the Interdisciplinary Awareness and Service Learning Class. All three of these programs have something in common: they’re looking for committed, good students. For more information, visit Kelly and Jeff on the Quad—and visit this website.

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