Modes of communication consistently evolve, with technology serving as a catalyst. New assistive technology is focusing on ways to facilitate communication for people who are non-verbal or have difficulties expressing themselves verbally. Whether reading brain waves or offering quick expression sharing options, tech ventures are a driving force behind innovative ways to democratize communication.
Seattle’s swaths of downtown real estate are looked after by Debbie, who manages the janitorial teams responsible for the upkeep of government institutions housed in historic office buildings and modern skyscrapers.
Happy World Reading Day! While every day should be a reading day, today we get to celebrate the amazing invention of the story. Books are such an incredible tool when it comes to children’s success, development, and creativity. Books have enabled children all around the world to engage one another in a common language. They teach us how to be good people. Shel Silverstein’s The Giving Tree teaches the importance of sharing and appreciating your loved ones (and has been translated into more than 30 languages). Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax shows us the value of taking care of the world around you. Crockett Johnsons’ Harold and the Purple Crayon is a perfect illustration of just how far your imagination can take you.
We’re all about celebrating people in their entirety, which is why we were excited to see the hashtag #DisabledAndCute being embraced by people with disabilities on Twitter. Eschewing the notion that their disabilities make them less-than able-bodied people, #DisabledAndCute began as a way of celebrating all bodies. The hashtag was created by Keah Brown, a young woman who lives with cerebral palsy. As she explained to Teen Vogue, it’s commonly held that people with disabilities inherently hate their bodies or are in some way disappointed in them. Brown claims that #DisabledAndCute is proof that this is not true.
“My disability is not all that I am, but it is a big part of who I am. I will never not be disabled, and so to [conceal] that part of me would be ridiculous,” Brown told Cosmo.
Not only does #DisabledAndCute encourage body positivity, it embraces an unapologetic call for visibility. The hashtag is a step in the right direction, down a path where people with disabilities aren’t making a statement just for celebrating themselves. Regardless, #DisabledAndCute is a great way to share your story within the context of a conversation that celebrates all that you have to offer.
Spring is around the corner and we couldn’t be more excited to be outside and get some sunshine on our faces. If you’re looking for some accessible activities to get involved in during the upcoming months, check out some of the resources below!
1) Friendship Adventures
Based out of Kirkland, Friendship Adventures focuses on recreation, education and leisure activities for people with developmental disabilities. From bingo to dances, they’re all about building community.
2) Outdoors for All Foundation
From kayaking to snowboarding, Outdoors for All’s mission is to enrich the quality of life for children and adults with disabilities through outdoor education. Offering a diverse selection, see if there’s one for you!
3) Wilderness Inquiry
Providing integrated trips with people of all abilities, Wilderness Inquiry wants to get as many people out enjoying nature as possible. They also provide inclusive equipment meant to meet a range of needs.
4) Seattle Adaptive Sports
Seattle Adaptive Sports facilitates athletic and recreational activities for youths and adults with physical disabilities, and offers a mélange of options. Basketball, tennis and soccer are all some of the classic sports leagues you can join.
5) Aquatic Therapy Services
A combination of mental relaxation and physical well-being can result from spending time in the water, especially if it’s in the form of aquatic therapy. If you’re located in the Seattle area, Seattle Children's Hospital has an accessible pool which is always heated to 93 degrees. If you happen to be located near Sammamish, Community Integration Services offer several programs for both children and adults.
Let us know of any other organizations, groups or services you enjoy participating with, we want to spread the word!
On February 7th, Betsy DeVos was confirmed as Secretary of Education under President Donald Trump. This process – from President Trump announcing DeVos as a candidate to her confirmation – has been one of the most contested cabinet positions in modern history. In an unprecedented vote, the U.S. Senate confirmed Betsy DeVos to be secretary of education despite widespread concerns about her comments on special education.
With a full agenda of developments and exciting news, there’s a lot to be excited about at Northwest Center in this upcoming year. One thing we’re especially pleased to share with you all is the launch of our advocacy branch; a new sector of Northwest Center aiming to connect our clients with even more resources both locally and nationally, while also supplying useful, nonpartisan information to help families and individuals make the best choices for themselves.
This morning, Betsy DeVos was nominated as Secretary of Education under President Donald Trump. This nomination will move to Congress for approval in the coming weeks. While DeVos was met with harsh criticism in recent weeks from Democrats and special needs advocates, “deep opposition from special education advocates was not enough to prevent President Donald Trump’s nominee to lead the U.S. Department of Education from moving forward.” (Disability Scoop, January 31, 2017).
Gaining much attention is DeVos’s public position on Individuals with Disabilities Act and her belief that it should be run state-by-state, moving from the current national standardization. Following is a history of IDEA, what the law actually entails, and what it means to people with disabilities.
In 1967, almost 200,000 individuals with significant disabilities were living in state institutions. Before the passing of the Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA) of 1975, people with disabilities were likely to have inequitable opportunities in life. State institutions provided only minimal clothing, food, and shelter; furthermore, people with disabilities were merely accommodated rather than assessed and educated.
Northwest Center Partners with Tech Neighbor to Establish National Model of Inclusion
By Sarah Rothman
Director, Project Inclusion
Being located in one of the quickest-growing tech centers in the world, Northwest Center cherishes the opportunity to partner with our forward-thinking neighbors. Our employment team is proud to be working on a sustainable, long-term relationship with one of the largest tech companies in Seattle. Building off of a pilot program in 2015, the long-term objective of the partnership with Northwest Center is to attract and retain a part-time driven and diverse workforce. By developing an inclusive, broad staffing network, we are placing people with disabilities who are looking for part-time opportunities in independent, competitive employment.
Northwest Center and Value Village Celebrate 50 years in 2017
By Denise Small
Senior Director, Big Blue Truck
In 1967, just two years after our founding, Northwest Center entered into a partnership with Value Village. We collect clothing and household donations with The Big Blue Truck™ and The Blue Bin. Value Village buys that merchandise to sell in its stores, and the revenue funds our education and employment programs. The innovative “social business” model was decades ahead of its time. Today, the partnership is stronger than ever, collecting state wide.
Northwest Center’s business relationship with Value Village has been the foundation of our entire philosophy of change, which is to use business to create social good. Now the world is embracing the business value of diversity at unprecedented scale, thanks in part to this breakthrough that started 50 years ago right here in Seattle.
Expanding Inclusive Work Environments Across County Lines
By Taryn Farley
Manager, Employment Services
2016 was a year of growth throughout all Northwest Center departments. Taryn Farley and Alex Diseth, the Community Employment Services Managers, assumed full leadership of the job development team in August with goals geared towards long-term growth. Both managers have worked at Northwest Center for nearly five years and have experience in the disability field beyond their tenure at Northwest Center. Taryn and Alex have their eyes set on staff retention through quality training aimed towards getting more people into jobs!
With new leadership and a growing team, we are poised to increase our existing services in King County and are now certified to expand our services statewide. Our first order of business is to begin expansion into the adjacent counties of Snohomish, Pierce and Kitsap. Expansion efforts have already begun in Snohomish County, with relationships being built out of the Lynnwood Division of Vocational Rehabilitation Office.
Celebrating a Year of Inclusive Work
By Lindsay MacCary
Looking back on 2016, the School-to-Work team is proud to reflect upon a successful year! In 2016 our team of four employment consultants served 22 students from schools spanning King County, all the while diligently collaborating with students, teachers, families and other members of support networks on the journey to best understand students’ strengths, interests and support needs.
Northwest Center Kids in 2016
By Laura Kneedler
Vice President, Northwest Center Kids
This time of year is our favorite – not only can we share our appreciation with our loyal audience, we get to fill you in on the exciting progress we made this past year!
We’re so grateful to be a part of all families involved with Northwest Center Kids, and through our Early Intervention and Early Learning programs we were able to serve nearly 600 children and families in 2016.
By Ty Taylor
President and CEO, Interim
Happy New Year! As Northwest Center closed out 2016 and as 2017 begins, it seems like a great time to reflect on what we have accomplished, the journey we have taken, and the plans we have for an exciting, bright future ahead.
I would like to start by telling you how much I appreciate each customer, client and employee of Northwest Center and that I recognize we would not be where we are today without the contributions made by each of you. Thank you.
Last year was a year of growth, change and transition. With the help of our stellar employees, we are making great strides in achieving our goal to transform our service offerings and increase our reach in the community. Northwest Center values our 50 years of relationships with customers, and are excited and humbled to continue advancing our standard of excellence to unreached customers.
I know that because of the efforts of a phenomenal team we thrived in 2016. We want 2017 to be even more successful for the company and for you. It is an incredible feeling to know that when I go out to clients – both existing and potential, there is no way I can oversell the competency and commitment of our team to maintaining the mission of Northwest Center.
My thanks to everyone for your contributions in 2016. I hope you will look to 2017 as brightly as we do.
Thank you for all you do for Northwest Center.
By Jennifer Owen
With heavy hearts we share the news that Evelyn Chapman passed away on November 19th, 2016. While her achievements were many, we are forever grateful for her efforts in co-founding Northwest Center.
Passionate about human rights, Evelyn fought valiantly for those with disabilities—especially motivated to champion the rights of her son Coolidge after he was refused equal education in Seattle Public Schools. Evelyn became involved with Northwest Center in the 1960’s, forming an inclusive schooling system.
Help to support local non-profits this winter by donating new or gently worn sweaters, coats and cold-weather gear to KCTS 9’s 20th annual Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood Sweater Drive. January 13 - February 12, 2017. Donated items will benefit Northwest Center, Wellspring Family Services, and Queen Anne Helpline.
Look for the Sweater Drive collection bins at all PCC Natural Markets locations, Sound Credit Union’s location in Western Washington; or drop your items off at KCTS 9's Seattle Center studio.
Uber is also making it easy to donate to the sweater drive with the touch of a button. On Saturday, February 11, Uber users can log-in and request ‘Donate’ at the bottom of the screen. A driver will pick up the donated clothing and deliver it directly to a local donation center – for free!
“All of us, at some time or other, need help,” said Fred Rogers. “Whether we’re giving or receiving a sweater, each one of us has something valuable to bring to this world.”
Be sure to follow @nwcenter and @KCTS9 on Facebook and Twitter for updates!
Last year’s drive collected hundreds of sweaters for individuals in Western Washington.
Learn more at: www.kcts9.org
Disney films have become a staple of our childhoods, acting as cultural symbols both adults and children can identify with and use to relate to one another. Recently, Disney is using their international clout to embark on a noble mission of bringing disabilities into the limelight. Between Disney’s 2015 blockbuster ‘Inside Out’ and this year’s ‘Finding Dory,’ the topic of disability is becoming more accessible to a larger audience, including younger children; and when 12.5% of individuals in the US struggle with some type of disability, Disney’s move towards socially-conscious themes benefits advocacy groups like Northwest Center.
I’m a mother of two special needs children at Northwest Center Kids. My son was diagnosed at 18 months old with autism. Our daughter, during that same period, was born prematurely at 29 weeks and diagnosed with Prader Willi Syndrome, which is a rare genetic disorder with both physical and mental delays.
More than a century old, Starbucks Center (formerly the Sears, Roebuck & Co. building) is a buzzing hub of retail, office, warehousing, and manufacturing activities. Each day, thousands of Seattleites drive by the iconic building, now home to one of the world’s most iconic brands. And behind the scenes of this two million square-foot, 17-acre operation is Brandon, who prides himself on keeping the facility as beautiful as it has been for the past 100 years.
If there’s one rule to follow about how to treat people with disabilities it’s this: simply treat them the way you’d treat anyone else. At Northwest Center Kids, where children with and without disabilities share the same classrooms and playgrounds, kids naturally learn that we’re all more alike than we are different. Here are some great tips on sharing that same lesson with your kids:
When Tiago and Aviana were born two months prematurely, doctors told their parents that they would need to adjust expectations for the twins’ development. Developmental milestones including walking and speaking would likely develop on a different timeline than that of full term babies. Sitting for the average baby is usually around six to nine months. For Tiago and Aviana, it was much later.
On November 19, Evelyn Chapman, co-founder of Northwest Center, passed away. She was 80. It is with deep respect and honor that we express our sincere condolences to her family and to those that knew and loved her. Her legacy and dedication to those she served lives on in the work of Northwest Center and the lives of those with disabilities that she fought for. Evelyn and her late husband, John, an esteemed attorney, were always on hand to provide wise counsel to the management of NWC until recent years when health prevented them from doing so. We are grateful for their tutelage and guidance over the decades. We hope to honor Evelyn here by reposting this story of her legacy with Northwest Center.
It was 1971, and Chapman was on the phone with the latest in a string of Seattle school officials she’d had to fight for years, just trying to make it possible for kids with developmental disabilities, like her son Coolidge, to get an education.
“I was talking to the Superintendent of the Seattle Public Schools,” she remembers. “The Special Ed director was keeping out kids like Coolidge. So I called his boss. I was very frustrated. He had a million excuses: we don’t have any money, we don’t have any mandate from the state, and on and on. I was on my kitchen phone, and I just kicked a hole in the wall.”
Larry was hired as the day porter for the Seattle offices of worldwide PR firm Edelman. It’s safe to say that things are going well.
“We need more people like him in the office,” says his supervisor, office manager Alison Maddox. Although a big company with its busy schedules and tight deadlines can make some people jaded and irritable, she says, Larry is always soft spoken, upbeat, and ready with a smile.
By Katia, Northwest Center Mom
Northwest Center Early intervention has helped me understand Alex. Everybody is so on top of things, helping me and helping Alex learn to eat. Before, I would chase after him if he left the table. Now I talk to him to engage him at the table so that he stays and eats more. Early Intervention has made changes happen.
Northwest Center is different from other programs I work with because there are several resources in your network like a nutritionist and feeding team, so I don’t have to wait for referrals to different places. We have meetings with his childcare, Early Head Start, Alex’s doctor and his nutritionist, which means that we are all on the same page, so there is connection and support. We are all trying to find a way together for Alex to work on the things that are hard for him right now.
Northwest Center is a 501(c)(3) Nonprofit Organization. We envision a day when all people have the same opportunity to learn, work and enjoy a fulfilling life. From birth to retirement, we support people with disabilities.
This story was originally published as part of Northwest Center's 50th anniversary project: 50 Stories Worth Sharing
The employees at Brown & Brown Insurance would like you to throw out any preconceived notions about working with people who have a developmental disability.
“You might automatically assume that, because they have a disability, that they’re unable to do the job,” says Account Executive Suzie Darst. “Out the window!” she exclaims. “Totally not the case. Not at all.”
She knows, because she’s worked with two colleagues hired through Northwest Center: Angelica, who works as an administrative assistant and manages the Brown & Brown Facebook page; and Steven, a young man with degrees in both English and Computer Science, who was hired to build the company’s website.
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