CRPD basics for youth advocates (and you!)

August 29, 2014 by Sue Reeves

What is the CRPD (Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities)?

The CRPD is a United Nations treaty, already signed by 158 nations. The CRPD would give people with disabilities around the world the same protections as the Americans with Disabilities Act gives to people in the United States.

Why is the CRPD important?

The CRPD is important so that American citizens with disabilities will have the same opportunities and protections when they travel in other countries that they have at home in the United States.

The United States Congress failed to pass the CRPD last year and will consider it again after the summer recess in early September. Senator Hatch has been opposed to the United States’ ratification of the treaty, but has said that he may be open to reconsidering his position.

Who is Senator Hatch?

Senator Orrin Hatch is the senior senator from Utah. He has been a strong ally to individuals with disabilities since he was first elected to the United States Senate in 1976 (38 years ago, before any youth advocates were born!). Over the past several decades, Senator Hatch has been a champion of disability rights in the United States.

What has Senator Hatch done for people with disabilities?

• 1978: Senator Hatch formed the Utah Advisory Committee on Disability Issues to find out from disability advocates in Utah how disability-related legislation would affect them and their families. The Disability Advisory Committee continues to meet monthly with the Senator’s staff 36 years later to give input on important issues.

• 1990: Senator Hatch played a critical role in getting the original Americans with Disabilities Act passed.

• 2008: Senator Hatch helped pass the 2008 amendments to the ADA, which strengthened the law to improve the rights of people with disabilities to work, travel, and participate fully in our communities.

• Most recently, Senator Hatch has:

— Voted for the Autism Cares Act to improve research, education, and supports for individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD).

— Sponsored the Technology Education and Accessibility College in Higher Education (TEACH) Act to develop accessibility guidelines for instructional materials and related information technology in college settings.

— Co-sponsored the Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act designed to make it easier for people with disabilities to save money and not be penalized by losing important benefits.

What can you do to help?

Let Senator Hatch know how much you appreciate all the work he’s done for people with disabilities.

Then let him know he can continue to help people with disabilities by voting yes on the CRPD!

Here are some ideas on how you can do this:


Go to Senator Hatch’s Facebook page here and “like” it.

Make a paper sign that says:

Thank you for helping #PWD, Sen. Hatch!

Have someone take a picture of you holding the sign. Upload the photo to Sen. Hatch’s Facebook page once.

Ask your friends to do this, too.

Go to the CPD’s Facebook page here  (and like us if you want to!)

Every weekday (Monday through Friday) until Sept. 8 we will post something about the CRPD. Click the “share” button and add this: @SenOrrinHatch, please vote yes on #CRPD! or this: @SenOrrinHatch, please support #CRPD! or this: @SenOrrinHatch, thank you for helping #PWD! Please vote yes on #CRPD!  Mix them up to avoid looking spammy.

Ask your friends to do this, too.

If you want to do more, go to your own Facebook page and post this one time each week until Sept. 8 (just copy and paste):

Thank you, @SenOrrinHatch, for 38 years of helping people with disabilities! You championed #ADA #ABLE #TEACH and #AutismCares. Now, please, continue your legacy by voting to ratify #CRPD!

Ask your friends to do this, too.


Go to the CPD’s Twitter feed here  (and follow us if you want to!)

Every weekday (Monday through Friday) we will tweet something about the CRPD. Click the “retweet” button, and add RT (for “retweet”) at the beginning of the tweet.

Ask your friends to do this, too.

If you want to do more, you can tweet each of these once per day (just copy and paste):

OpEd to @SenOrrinHatch: Do right by veterans with disabilities, ratify #crpd.

Thank you, @SenOrrinHatch, for 38 years as a champion for #PWD! #ADA #ABLE #TEACH #AutismCares. Please vote yes on #CRPD too! #utpol

Please do not exceed the recommended number of posts, shares, tweets and retweets. If you post more often, you run the risk of being blocked as a spammer.

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Your CPD summer reading list

July 25, 2014 by Sue Reeves

Image of gardeners planting plants

Earlier this year, volunteers helped DSL participants plant vegetables in the community garden.

It’s summer time, and the living is easy. If you need a little quiet time this week, in between trips to the lake and the mountains and the splash pads and the zoo, kick back with a cold beverage and your e-reader, and revisit some of these CPD-related stories. No, there won’t be a test.


Aggies Elevated: Dreams do come true

Youth learn to be ninja leaders

Spring break students receive robust experience

Blanding students spend a week in the AT lab


Graduate Student of the Year gets involved at DSL

Little things mean a lot


Ferrara named Alum of the Year

Harris named Student of the Year

Employee service awards

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Youth challenged to find their strengths

June 14, 2013 by Sue Reeves

Image of Todd Christensen making a presentation.

Motivational speaker and leadership trainer Todd Christensen speaks to the participant of the first-ever leadership conference for youth with disabilities.

Motivational speaker and leadership trainer Todd Christensen challenged the participants of a new leadership conference for youth with disabilities to “Look at your strengths … remember who you are. Be true to yourself. If you find something you are passionate about, you will make a difference.”

Christensen spoke to the youth and their group leaders earlier this week at a conference coordinated in part by Jeff Sheen of Utah State University’s Center for Persons with Disabilities. Sheen is a training and development specialist and program coordinator at the CPD.

Christensen asked the 10 young men and women, who were participants in youth groups sponsored by Centers for Independent Living around the state of Utah, to define what makes a leader. Their responses included: “Always directing a cause,” “showing you can be a leader and not a follower,” “a person who’s not afraid to be themselves,” “a person who stands up for themselves or someone else,” “someone who doesn’t care what people think—they know what’s right,” “someone who is willing to learn or always learning,” “humble,” and “someone who is willing to listen and understand people.”

During the two-hour session, Christensen led the students through several exercises meant to help them define the concept of leadership, how the principles of leadership could be applied to their own lives, and the importance of moving outside of one’s comfort zone.

“What kind of life do you live if you’re not willing to step up and take risks and stand up for something?” he asked. “You’re a zombie … Great leaders crash and burn, but they live life and they make others’ lives better.”

Christensen said that the only thing necessary to be a leader is to have a follower, but a leader has to be someone that people want to follow. Leadership is not intimidation, he said, but about building relationships and visualizing the future.

“A lot of people will talk leadership,” he said. “But you have to decide: who is the kind of leader you’d like to follow? Who is the kind of leader you’d like to be?”

He quoted a survey in which 88 percent of the respondents said honesty was the most important attribute in a leader, followed by forward-looking at 71 percent, competent at 66 percent and inspiring at 65 percent.

“If you’re not honest, how can you inspire people to follow you?” he asked.

Christensen said the seven keys to success as a leader are passion for your cause, belief in yourself and your product or service, energy, strategy, the ability to build rapport, communication, and 100 percent commitment.

“A leader needs to be passionate,” he said. “Managers are appointed, but leaders are chosen by their constituents … The followers, the constituents, make the leader want to be a better leader. You are leaders, you just don’t know it yet.”

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