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.
In September 2015, Northwest Center Employment Services referred Conner to a position as a Fulfillment Associate in Kent, WA, working in a busy distribution center for one of the world’s largest online retailers, based in Seattle, WA. After successfully completing the interview and screening processes, Conner was thrilled to accept the job.
Last year, Luke Madsen, Managing Director at Northwestern Mutual Bellevue, was impressed when Zach asked for more work to do in his job as data entry assistant. Well, Zach got his wish: he now tracks the daily activity of an entire fleet of insurance advisors.
“I help the first- or second-year financial advisors keep track of the people they call,” Zach explains.
“In our business, you have to make a certain number of phone calls, you need to meet with a certain number of people,” says Luke. “Zach has a system that he plugs all the information into.”
Northwest Center is honored to be participating in The EFW Collective Conversation, presented by Value Village. The day of open dialogue aims to provide information on the challenges, opportunities and innovations facing the sustainability of the garment and textile industry.
A growing number of individuals, organizations, and for-profit companies are recognizing the many benefits of a diverse workforce. Studies show that inclusion benefits the entire workplace with better morale, efficiency, and consumer reviews; and we know from fifty years of first-hand experience that employing people with disabilities is good for business. The strategies outlined below are designed to enhance inclusion in the workplace for employees of all ages and all skill levels.
Every time we update the software on our computers we’re reminded of the ever-evolving nature of technology. Fortunately, this constant force of change brings with it new opportunities for technology to enhance the lives of adults living with disabilities. Below are some of the most exciting emerging trends available today.
Charles has spent this year showing his team at Puget Sound Laundry Services he has what it takes to get the job done, and then some! A longtime Northwest Center Employment Services participant, Charles has previously worked in document shredding at American Data Guard, on a supported work team at the Bank of America Building, and in Northwest Center’s Assembly & Packaging division.
With winter quickly approaching, we understand that families need to find activities to fill their children's time. Crafts can be a great way to engage with children in a manner they find entertaining while also offering the opportunity for teachable moments. Below is a list of five activities that make indoor time seem like the most exciting option!
On Tuesday, October 11th, local business leaders and members of the community filled the 4th floor of the Westin Downtown – Seattle to celebrate and invest in our Early Learning services for children with and without disabilities.
It sounds so simple. It was the late 1960s, and four Northwest Center founders—Cecile Lindquist, Janet Taggart, Evelyn Chapman, and the late Katie Dolan—were having a casual conversation with Ralph Munro (then an assistant to Governor Dan Evans, who would go on to become Secretary of the State of Washington). Now that Northwest Center was up and running, the women wanted to do more. Munro had a suggestion.
“He said, ‘Why don’t you write a mandatory law that children with disabilities will be served by public schools?’” Lindquist remembers. “‘We thought, ‘Well, there's an idea for you.’”
We were thrilled to join The Friendship Circle of WA at their 5th Annual Walk with Friendship on Mercer Island, Sunday, October 9th! The walk is a fun family event that brings out hundreds of families for a celebration of disability inclusion in the Puget Sound area. The walk was followed by a carnival with music, entertainment, prizes, and food. Thank you, Northwest Center employees, friends, and families for showing your support!
Northwest Center Assembly & Packaging customer, GoodHangups entered the Shark Tank on September 30, 2016 to pitch a unique and damage-free solution to hanging artwork on walls. Mom and entrepreneur Leslie Pierson created the company, which can be found on Amazon, QVC, Paper Source stores, and other independent shops. Congratulations on making a deal, Leslie!
In fall of 2016, Northwest Center Kids received a letter that started like this:
Dear Northwest Center Kids,
Among the bright posters and colorful paintings decorating the walls of Northwest Center Kids is a black and white photograph of a teacher holding a baby girl that tells the story of a 26-year friendship.
John, a teacher’s aide at Northwest Center’s Early Learning Center, still remembers the day in 1989 when he was asked to hold one of the classroom babies, Emily, for a photo, and how the charismatic little girl immediately stole his heart.
At only 11-years-old, Nora’s life story is already full of triumph and success. Following Nora’s Down syndrome diagnosis, her family came to Northwest Center in search of a daycare and early learning program that could also offer her early intervention services.
“It’s the only place in Seattle that actually had that and it was really important for our family,” recalls Nora’s mom, Marti. At 4-months-old Nora began attending Northwest Center Kids, an inclusive program where children with and without disabilities learn and play together. But Nora still had more to show the world that she could overcome.
Laethan Wene likes who he is: someone who advocates for people like himself. Someone who may have a disability, but who more importantly has a job, friends, an active social schedule and a lot of stories to tell. A member of Northwest Center’s Board of Directors, Wene has a connection to the organization that goes back nearly 30 years. He was a pre-teen when he first met longtime board member Parul Houlahan. At the time, she was working for the Washington Protection and Advocacy System—an organization that began at Northwest Center as The Troubleshooters and is now known as Disability Rights Washington (DRW). “When I was 12 years old, when my mom was still here, we made a trip down to see Ms. Houlahan. So I’ve known her ever since I was a kid.” Houlahan helped Laethan’s mother find the services he needed as a child with a developmental disability who would soon enter high school—and later, the world.
In early spring, Northwest Center received a letter. It started like this:
I am writing to convey my deepest admiration and appreciation for the expertise, commitment and excellence of Charly Walters, Employment Consultant, Spokane Northwest Center. Your organization could not be represented by a more professionally outstanding individual. I first met Charly when I interviewed her for the 2014 annual report for Spokane Country Regional Support Network (RSN), the public mental health administrator for Spokane. Charly’s participation in a collaborative initiative between Spokane Public Schools and the RSN to facilitate employment for high school students with acute and chronic mental illness was selected as a Highlight of Excellence for the RSN’s report. It was abundantly obvious…that the pioneering success of this initiative was due in large part to the vision, mentoring, enthusiasm and expertise of Charly Walters…. So, I thought, if Charly can accomplish employment success for this challenging population, perhaps she could assist my unemployed adult son, Spencer, who has Down syndrome. That was a mere two months ago, and this Saturday, after not being able to secure independent employment since 2007, Spencer will start his new job at Wendy’s.
Innovative companies across the country are embracing a new form of competitive advantage in the marketplace – the power of diversity and inclusion to improve business results. Disability advocates have implored businesses for decades to hire people with disabilities simply because it is the right thing to do, as if inclusion is a reluctant compromise made in the admirable spirit of giving back to the community.
But our experience at Northwest Center suggests that we have been looking at this through the wrong end of the telescope. What we have found is that the harder we work to build, nurture, and leverage a Neurodiverse workforce, the more successful our businesses are. Coincidence? We don’t think so.
For one thing, we find the same correlation between inclusion and business performance in each of our businesses.
Every day, damaged and worn-out clothes, shoes and linens are thrown into the trash because some people think these items can’t be reused or recycled. That is why The Big Blue Truck™ has partnered with King County and Seattle Public Utilities to let the public know that these items can be donated through a program called Threadcycle. We’re asking everyone to give all their clothes, shoes and linens (as long as they are not wet, mildewed or soiled with hazardous materials) to Northwest Center instead of tossing them away.
When you ask a longtime Northwest Center board or staff member about Katie Dolan, certain words come up over and over again: dynamic, charming, tenacious, audacious. It’s no surprise that Dolan, one of the founders of Northwest Center, is still revered nearly ten years after her death in 2006 at age 82. A tribute written by Northwest Center staff at that time remembers Dolan as always “doing what couldn’t be done”.
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