Team Hoyt Specialty License Plates

You can get your low number license plate and support Team Hoyt and Venture.  Venture will recieve a $10 for every application submitted.  (#100 – 850 randomly assigned. ) An application must be completed and submitted with your check made payable MASS DOT in the amount of $40.00 and sent to: Team Hoyt Plate, PO Box 245, Billerica, MA 01821

For more information contact:  teamhoytmaplate@gmail.com

Download application form here:  Application – License Plate

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Developmental Disability Awareness Month

This March marks the 28th anniversary of Developmental Disability Awareness Month.  The National Association of Councils on Developmental Disabilities defines the goal of this annual campaign as “creating awareness about developmental disabilities, teaching the importance of inclusion within every aspect of life, and to sharing the stories of individuals with a disability to show that a successful life is possible”.   The campaign focuses on education, employment, and community living for individuals with intellectual disabilities.

In honor of Developmental Disability Awareness Month, we are sharing stories of inclusion all around us.  Here are some great examples of how our society is creating a more inclusive environment and bringing awareness to individuals with disabilities in our communities.

  1. Disabilities in television and film – popular television shows such as have featured people with disabilities increasingly in the past several years. Lauren Potter had a major role in Glee, Luke Zimmerman was cast in The Secret Life of the American Teenager, Jamie Brewer starred in two seasons of American Horror Story, and J. Mitte portrayed Walter White’s son in the wildly popular series Breaking Bad.  Several new shows have been addressing disability issues and putting disabled characters at the center of the story, such as ABC’s Speechless, which features a high school student with cerebral palsy and Netflix’s Atypical, which tells the coming-of-age story about an 18-year-old with autism.  For more information about this topic, check out the article TV Depictions of Disability Have Come a Long Way on Buzzfeed.
  2. Apple is introducing inclusive emojis! The technology company has been praised for inclusion when it comes to skin tone and sexual orientation – now the folks at Apple have submitted a proposal for new accessibility emoji that will include service dogs, people using both manual and mechanical wheelchairs, people using canes, an ear with a hearing aid, and prosthetics.
  3. Adaptive clothing is catching on – popular and affordable brands like Cat & Jack for Target have introduced sensory-friendly clothing for kids, and are adding to their line by creating clothes for kids with other disabilities as a part of their Design for All initiative. These pieces are designed with many different disabilities in mind – including wheelchairs, sensory concerns, and abdominal access for feeding tubes.  Their sensory-friendly clothes are designed without itchy tags or seams and are constructed in soft cotton.  Other online shops are also popping up, such as Smart Knit Kids, which offers seamless socks, underwear, and tees for kids with sensory processing disorders.
  4. Opportunities for postsecondary education – colleges and universities all over the country are offering programs and courses with intellectually disabled students in mind. The REACH Program at the University of Iowa welcomes students with learning disabilities, autism and other intellectual disabilities.  This program offers a real college experience, with integrated housing, inclusive educational opportunities, employment training, and more.  Landmark College in Vermont was created especially for students with dyslexia, hyperactivity, and other learning disabilities
  5. Adaptive fitness opportunities are becoming more widely available – adaptive gyms are popping up all over! Unified Health and Performance in Lancaster is offering an inclusive environment for fitness.  People of all abilities are welcome at the gym and accommodations are made to create a great experience for everyone.  The gym also offers several adaptive group classes per week for both kids and adults.  For more information about their mission, check out the Worcester Business Journal feature article.  This Washington Post article also has a lot of great information about fitness for people with disabilities, and features a personal trainer who has autism.

Thank You to our Legislators

Over the past few months, Venture has been proud to welcome legislators from the communities we serve into our programs to share with them the valuable work we do and discuss some challenges and concerns the human services industry is facing, especially workforce recruitment and retention.  Both independently as an agency and as a member of the Provider’s Council, Venture is advocating for direct care workers.  We support legislation that will offer student loan repayment options and fair pay for similar work.  We will also continue to advocate for affordable healthcare and higher wages.  Our employees are the lifeline of the work we do every day, and we believe in investing in their wellbeing and professional development.  Looking out for our workforce leads to better care for the individuals we support and creates a stronger community.

We discussed these issues and more with Senator Anne Gobi (D – Worcester, Hampden, Hampshire and Middlesex) when she visited our Community Day Program in Sturbridge;  Senator Ryan Fattman (R – Worcester and Norfolk) and Representative Kevin Kuros (R – 8th Worcester) who both visited our Community Day Program in Uxbridge; Representative Natalie Higgins (D – 4th Worcester)  and Senator Dean Tran (R – Worcester and Middlesex) when they visited our Community Day Program in Leominster; and Representative Jeffrey Roy (D – 10th Norfolk) when he met with us at our new residential program in Franklin.  We would like to thank each of them for taking the time to hear our concerns and learn more about the vital work we do providing services to people in our community and providing jobs all over Massachusetts.

The Providers Council will be launching its new “Will You Care?” campaign at the 2018 Caring Force State House Rally on April 10th.  For more information, visit The Caring Force.

There Really Are Plenty of Good Stories

by Mike Hyland, President & CEO

What trying times we live in now.  It seems every newscast we watch leads off with a story about shootings or fires or guns or disasters or war.  In fact, most of the time a newscast leads off with eight or nine of these stories and by the time we get to a commercial break it’s hard to sit up straight.  It’s a shame, a real shame that newscasts and newspapers almost never lead off with something positive and uplifting.  There are after all, plenty of good stories happening all around us every day.

I’d like to see a newscast lead off the nightly news with a story about the direct support professional who took an individual to her very first movie because a team of people helped her to manage the crippling anxiety that she has lived with for 20 years.  Or the nurse who helped a terrified teenager give birth and then held the teenager’s hand and told her everything would be all right because she’s not alone.  A story about the cop who encountered a man hearing voices but still managed to get him to safety and then checked on him two days later.  That would be a great way to lead off a newscast too.  I’d like to see a story about the foster parent who just helped her fifth foster child graduate high school in spite of overwhelmingly long odds and is now helping him get ready to attend college.  Maybe a newscast could make the first story of the night a feature about the seven year old who is now cancer free after four surgeries and has already decided she wants to be a doctor.  We just never see this stuff on the news but it happens all the time.

Wouldn’t it be nice to see a major newspaper make a block headline on the front page about the volunteer in the nursing home who comes in every day to dance with the Alzheimer’s patients because it helps them remember their weddings 50+ years ago?  It would be wonderful to see three stories above the fold; one about the teacher who talked a kid out of quitting school, another about the counselor who single-handedly helped a man stay sober for the third day in a row, and a story about the librarian who delivers books on her own time to people in psychiatric hospitals.  What a great thing it would be to see a whole front page dedicated to the little girl who comes home from school every day and leaves a letter in her neighbor’s mailbox so the neighbor’s autistic daughter who is afraid to leave the house can always have mail to open.  It would be amazing to see a local newspaper do a series on the gentleman from Ghana who reaches into his own pocket every day to augment the food he delivers as a volunteer with authentic dishes from his country because he thinks the people he delivers to would like it.  A story about the neighbor who started looking after the lonely 54 year old disabled woman because she has no one else but now does it because she likes her would surely be better than anything I saw on seven different front pages this morning.

People do things like this every day but we have to go looking to find out about it.  Given the world we live in, it’s about time the people who deliver the news to the masses started making it easier for us to meet all these people.

 


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