vody/> RCM - Revitalizing Community Membership: Empowering Independence: June 2015

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Reminder: Our Next Social Group Activity: Cookout at Watkins Park – Tomorrow: June 28, 2015, 1:00 p.m. - 5:00 p.m.

Friendly Reminder: Please be informed that our next Social Group Activity is set for tomorrow, June 28, 2015 at Watkins Park from 1:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.

Come enjoy a day of fun in the sun/shade! We will have a 1 mile fun walk for participants that would like to walk. We will go to the petting zoo, shake a leg (dance), take "selfies" and "usies" and enjoy a game or two of kick ball.


Michelle Obama to open 2015 Special Olympics World Games in Los Angeles

Los Angeles  — First lady Michelle Obama is coming to Los Angeles next month to kick off the Special Olympics World Games, organizers announced Thursday.

Obama, long an advocate of physical fitness and healthy lifestyles, will take part in the games' opening ceremonies July 25 at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, site of opening ceremonies for the 1932 and 1984 Summer Olympics.

"The Special Olympics movement is thrilled and honored to have first lady Michelle Obama join us on this momentous occasion," said Tim Shriver, the games' chairman. "Her vision of wellness, fitness and inclusion of all in sport is at the heart of Special Olympics."

With approximately 7,000 athletes participating in 26 different sports, organizers expect the nine-day Special Olympics will be the largest sports event Los Angeles has hosted since the 1984 Summer Olympics. They anticipate as many as 500,000 spectators will take part in the various events, all of which are free except for the opening ceremony.


Monday, June 22, 2015


What do you need to know to be a self-advocate? How can you practice leadership? Are there any college programs that teach self-advocacy skills? And where can you see what college is like? The Health Resource Center at The George Washington University has produced an online teaching tool about self advocacy. It provides students with disabilities basic knowledge about the self-advocacy skills that they will need to be successful in a college setting.

To read more on this story, click here: Self-Advocacy


Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Starbucks is Recognized as Top Employer for Disability Hiring and Inclusion

Starbucks scored 100 out of 100 on a new Disability Equality Index survey, a joint initiative of the American Association of People with Disabilities and the U.S. Business Leadership Network.

The Disability Equality Index (DEI) is a national, transparent benchmarking tool that offers businesses an opportunity to receive an objective assessment of their overall disability inclusion policies and practices. It is an aspirational, educational, recognition tool that goes far beyond legal compliance. It helps companies identify opportunities for continued improvement, while building their reputations as organizations that value diversity and inclusion.

"I am extremely pleased with the results of this ground-breaking collaboration between members of the business and disability communities,” said Helena Beger, Acting President and CEO of AADP. “It’s a real testament to what can happen when people work together toward shared goals.”

The 2014 DEI was completed by 80 Fortune 1000-size companies, representing a broad range of workplace, supply chain and marketplace activities.  Points are awarded in four major categories:  Culture & Leadership, Enterprise-wide Access, Employment Practices, and Community Engagement & Support Services.


The Forgotten History of Autism (Video)

Decades ago, few pediatricians had heard of autism. In 1975, 1 in 5,000 kids was estimated to have it. Today, 1 in 68 is on the autism spectrum. What caused this steep rise? Steve Silberman points to “a perfect storm of autism awareness” — a pair of psychologists with an accepting view, an unexpected pop culture moment and a new clinical test. But to really understand, we have to go back further to an Austrian doctor by the name of Hans Asperger, who published a pioneering paper in 1944. Because it was buried in time, autism has been shrouded in misunderstanding ever since. (This talk was part of a TED2015 session curated by Pop-Up Magazine: popupmagazine.com or @popupmag on Twitter.)

To view the video, click here: The Forgotten History ofAutism (Video)


Tuesday, June 16, 2015

7 Tips for People with Special Needs Looking for a Job

Embarking on a career search can be daunting, particularly if you’re a job applicant with special needs. Having a physical or intellectual disability can make tasks like developing a resume, filling out an application and preparing for an interview exceedingly difficult without support, and children with special needs don’t always have the same opportunities to develop job skills as do their typically-developing counterparts.

We wanted to learn what would help people with special needs find jobs more easily, so we reached out to some programs that specialize in assisting people with special needs find employment. The Mighty spoke with Keri Castaneda, Chief Program Officer of AbilityFirst, a program that offers a variety of services for people with varying intellectual and physical abilities in Pasadena, California. We also talked with Sarah Duplessis, the Program Director for Food for Good Thought in Columbus, Ohio. Food for Good Thought provides job training and support for people with autism and offers supported employment at its gluten-free bakery.

To read more on this story, click here: 7 Tips for People with Special Needs Looking for a Job


Reminder: Annual Boat Ride on The ‘Spirit of Washington’ – ALL Monies Need to be Turned in Today – June 16, 2015

Come join us for a fun-filled time. We’ll have fun sailing on tranquil water, great music, beautiful scenery. Enjoy a delicious lunch, and great company with friends.

What: Annual Boat Ride on The ‘Spirit of Washington’
Date: July 18, 2015
Time: 11:00 a.m. – 1:30 p.m.
Price: $58.54 per person

Please be reminded that ALL monies need to be turned in today to Gloria Joseph or Kim Robinson in a Postal money order, $58.54 per person that will be going on the boat ride, July 18, 2015.

Postal money order should be made out to RCM of Washington

For more information, contact: Kim Robinson 202-299-7425.

Please see flyer below for more details.

Hope to see you there!

Monday, June 15, 2015

Disability Invitational Hiring Fair

Disability Invitational Hiring Fair. The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) is hosting an Invitation Only Hiring Event. DOL is seeking talented individuals for various Department of Labor positions within the District of Columbia and DOL Regions across the United States. 

To be considered for these positions, applicants must have a Schedule A letter and meet the minimum qualifications for the positions.

The positions will be open June 15th and close on June 19th. Individuals found best qualified for the position(s) will be invited to interview with an agency representative at a location designated by the hiring agency between July 6th and July 10th, 2015.

For more information and to view the more than 20 positions available visit the Disability Invitational Hiring Fair website: http://tinyurl.com/og7xvpn. Please note that individuals will not be able to apply until Monday, June 15.

To learn more about this event, click here: DisabilityInvitational Hiring Fair

Saturday, June 13, 2015

My Experience Living with Syndactyly: Fusion of Fingers

Have You Ever Heard of ‪#‎Syndactyly? Read Stephen Bell’s Experience with This Condition on Disability.Blog.

Being born with a rare visible difference/disability can be an extremely interesting experience. I was born with a limb malformation condition on my right-hand called Syndactyly (pronounced syn-dac-ty-ly). All four of my fingers were fused together and I have since had the index finger separated after many skin graft and plastic surgery operations. Skin was taken from both the groin and the upper arm area to use for the skin graft and plastic surgery. I then had to wear a skin-tight, and very itchy, custom-made silicone glove day and night for six months in order to compress and heal the scarring. I have more flexibility and grip with the index finger since the surgery. The other three fingers share the same bone, so if more separations were to take place, one finger would be useable (like my index finger) and the other two fingers would be floppy, limp and useless.

My personal experience of having Syndactyly has been generally really positive; from an early age, my family taught, encouraged and helped me to be comfortable in my own skin. I guess nobody is 100 percent perfect. I have never ever tried to hide my fingers and hand, as this would only cause unnecessary attention. Some people never even notice but I am always more than happy to explain this unique condition and answer any questions. As with a lot of situations in life, it is often a case of assessing the situation and going with the flow. I let these conversations progress naturally, as I do not want to force anyone in to learning about my condition. If someone starts staring or glaring, then I will very politely just ask them, “Have we met before?” The majority of reactions I get when asked about my fingers is respectful, positive and encouraging. For as many years as I can remember, I have worn plain silver jewelry on both hands, like a watch, rings and bracelets. Perhaps this a subconscious was of both distracting and deflecting people from noticing my fingers. Like all other human beings, I learn coping strategies and mechanisms and this method works for me.
To read more on this story, click here: My ExperienceLiving with Syndactyly: Fusion of Fingers


Friday, June 12, 2015

Future Planning Stories from Self-Advocates: Successes, Challenges, and How to Make Your Voice Heard Webinar - June 16, 2015 from 2:00 p.m. - 3:00 p.m.

Join us for The Arc’s Center for Future Planning webinar to hear self-advocates Savannah Logsdon-Breakstone, Nicole LeBlanc, and Amy Goodman speak about the successes and challenges they have had in future planning. Hear about how they have planned for success, how they have addressed challenges in planning, and what skills they have learned to make their voices heard.


8-Year-Old in Wheelchair Unresponsive Until Dad Raps to Him (VIDEO)

Jared Correia experienced a stroke while in the womb and consequently has spent his eight years of life living with a variety of debilitating medical conditions. He has cerebral palsy, hydrocephalus and epilepsy, which has left him without the ability to stand, walk, talk or see.

But he can hear, which is where his dad comes in. Jared's father, Jayce, inspired by his son's ordeals, wrote a song for his song that includes the lines, "I couldn't be prouder / what you must go through every hour." He filmed himself rapping it to Jared, and Jared's reaction – he smiles and nods his head – shows that while he may not be able to express it, he understands what his dad is trying to tell him.

Originally uploaded to Facebook, the video quickly reached half a million views as people shared Jayce's show of support to his son. Jared "might not be able to see, or comprehend much, but boy can he hear and feel a rhythm," Jayce told the Huffington Post.


Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Meet Louise, My 4-Month-Old Daughter with Two Arms, Two Legs and One Extra Chromosome

I wrote this short piece as a rant/sob-fest, after a few comments that are all too familiar to me were made this morning during a routine medical exam for my daughter Louise. Over time, you get used to it -- you tell yourself that these are simple mistakes, that you need to harden yourself -- but, sometimes, enough is enough. I have asked myself what I could do to make myself feel better and maybe to stop the same thing from happening to others or to stop it from happening to me as often. I wrote this post and made it open to all of Facebook.

I would like to believe that this will put an end to the topic of my daughter's difference, and that I will no longer have to explain it. I know too well that this isn't the case. But if it could change just a few opinions...

This is my daughter. Louise. She is 4 months old, and has two arms, two legs, two great chubby cheeks, and one extra chromosome.


Reminder: Annual Boat Ride on The ‘Spirit of Washington’ – RSVP by Tomorrow, June 10, 2015

Come join us for a fun-filled time. We’ll have fun sailing on tranquil water, great music, beautiful scenery. Enjoy a delicious lunch, and great company with friends.

What: Annual Boat Ride on The ‘Spirit of Washington’
Date: July 18, 2015
Time: 11:00 a.m. – 1:30 p.m.
Price: $58.54 per person

 Monies need to be paid by June 16, 2015.
(Postal money order made out to RCM of Washington).

RSVP by June 10, 2015 to Kim Robinson 202-299-7425.

Please see flyer below for more details.

Hope to see you there!

Giving Students with Disabilities a Career Opportunity

For many students with disabilities, leaving high school means an abrupt end to the supports that they and their families have come to rely on. Project SEARCH, a nationwide partnership between school districts and local employers, seeks to ease that transition by placing students in job-training opportunities, often in hospitals and government offices. Education Week reporter Christina Samuels and photographer Lexey Swall report on a program in Manassas, Va., for the 2015 Diplomas Count special report that examines life after high school for students with disabilities.

For the past four years, Novant Health Prince William Medical Center has employed young adults from the 7,400-student Manassas, Va., district. A teacher from the district is on site to work with students in the program, which currently has positions for up to 10 students per academic year. The students have learning disabilities, intellectual disabilities, and autism.

To read more on this story, click here: Giving Students with Disabilities a Career Opportunity

Montgomery Co. Police Undergo Training to Better Communicate with Disabled Citizens

Gaithersburg, Md. (WJLA) - With the nation paying such close attention to the topic of police officers and race, Montgomery County officers spent part of their Monday learning how to relate to citizens with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

Maryland resident Ken Capone has cerebral palsy. He aided with the all-day session held at Montgomery County Police headquarters in Gaithersburg.
"This is so important for law enforcement so they will understand that every person is unique," Capone said via the use of an audible communication device.

Patti Saylor knows the need for training all-too-well. Her son Ethan, who had down syndrome, died from asphyxia during a physical struggle with sheriff's deputies that were moonlighting at a Frederick movie theater.


Monday, June 8, 2015

Fairytale Prom Night for Special Young Couple

Upper Darby, Pa. (WPVI) -- Complete with a horse-drawn carriage and police chief escort, it was a very special prom night for very special young couple in Upper Darby.

But it's not the horse-drawn carriage that makes this couple so wonderful.

It isn't even the fact that they were escorted to their prom by Upper Darby Police Chief Michael Chitwood.

What makes them wonderful is the fact that even though Clarence Bell and Jennifer Cassidy have Down syndrome, they've lived their young lives proving they are just like everyone else.

Clarence's mom Janai says just look at his resume.

"He's an advanced yellow belt in karate, he works one day a week at Delaware County Memorial Hospital, he's graduating on the 16th and he's an all-around lovable person," she said.

To read more on this story, click here: Fairytale Prom Night for Special Young Couple

Sunday, June 7, 2015

The Affordable Housing Crisis of Persons with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities

The president of Autism Housing Pathways, Catherine Boyle, calls the need for affordable supported housing for persons with developmental disabilities a crisis, at least in Massachusetts. It is hard to imagine that conditions in other states would be much different or better.

The way this housing crisis manifests itself is varied:

“This housing crisis takes many forms: the young autistic adult who has aged out of foster care and is couch surfing; the parent with a child with a disability who faces foreclosure; the individual with a developmental disability who has been unable to hold a job and lives at home with elderly parents.”

Boyle points out that children with intellectual and developmental disabilities age out of services provided by special needs education at the age of 22. The Massachusetts Department of Developmental Services ends up providing 24/7 residential supports for about 30 percent of those young people, with the remainder surviving without assistance, often in the family home, until the family ages and becomes unable to provide the kind of care they need. In Connecticut, one issue that the state is addressing is persons with intellectual or developmental disabilities whose caregivers are over 70; the state budget allocated $4 million to find housing for persons with disabilities with aged caregivers, but that was only enough for 136 persons, leaving more than 2,000 others on waiting lists for assistance.

Boyle makes specific recommendations: an increase in funding in the Massachusetts Affordable Housing Voucher Program, clarification about the kinds of housing developments in which DDS will provide support, and mechanisms that would allow individuals to combine resources from multiple funding streams. (The budget passed by the Massachusetts state senate in May recommends $4.75 million for AHVP in FY2016, an increase of $1.2 million over FY2015, which would be, according to RealEstateRama, “the first significant increase for AHVP since the program began twenty years ago.”)


Friday, June 5, 2015

We Bring AMC Sensory Friendly Films to Families Affected by Autism on a Monthly Basis to Select Communities

The program provides a special opportunity for families to enjoy their favorite films in a safe and accepting environment. The auditoriums dedicated to the program have their lights up, the sound turned down and audience members are invited to get up and dance, walk, shout or sing!

The idea for the program began with a request from a parent with an autistic child for a special screening at AMC Columbia Mall 14 in Columbia, MD. More than 300 children and parents attended the first screening.

We are thrilled to now offer the program at many locations nationwide — please see below for a complete list of participating theatres. As a leading theatrical exhibition company, we are so proud to be making a difference in the estimated 1.5 million Americans living with an autism spectrum disorder by offering families a chance to see a movie together — often for the very first time.


Thursday, June 4, 2015

Disability Parking Meters to Be Reevaluated in D.C.

Anyone can park in a space with a red-top meter in D.C. and after reports of mass confusion, District officials will reconsider the system.

Members of D.C. Council admitted today that the disability parking system is flawed and said they will work on fixes.

"These red top meters, whoever came up with this idea, crazy," Ward 2 Council Member Jack Evans said. "I wouldn't be sitting here today other than 700 of them ended up in my ward."

One thousand of the meters can be found in D.C. now. While anyone can park at a spot with a red-top meter as long as they pay the meter, anyone with a disability placard can park there for free.

To read more on this story, click here: Disability ParkingMeters to Be Reevaluated in D.C.


Chef Breaks Barriers with Custom Wheelchair-Accessible Food Truck

Toronto - A new Toronto food truck is possibly the first of its kind in the world.

After years working as a line cook in top Toronto restaurants, an accident in 2008 left chef Aleem Syed paralyzed from the waist down. At first he thought his career was over.

“I didn’t understand how I could make it work,” Syed told Global News back in December.

A visit from acclaimed French chef Pascal Ribreau convinced him otherwise. Ribreau, who is also paraplegic, had Syed join him in the kitchen to show him it was possible.

Inspired, the halal chef first started a catering business, then a pop-up restaurant.

Now, it’s The Holy Grill food truck.

Syed is set to debut what might be the first wheelchair-accessible food truck in the world. The design took some time.


Robert S. Whiteing - Living with a Brother Who Was Born with Special Needs: How RCM of Washington, Inc., Changed His Life

As a volunteer for RCM of Washington, Inc., and the administrator of this blog, I would like to share my brother’s story, and how this organization, changed his life.

My brother, Robert Sylvester Whiteing, was born with special needs. Robert was the 6th child out of a family of 9 children, with me being a year younger. I can remember Robert being different, and as a young child, would often question my parents why he was.

Robert was a beautiful child, with a head full of curly hair, and mesmerizing eyes that would change to different hues of green, depending on the season.

I remember Robert having to wear leg braces as a young child, and struggle to walk.

Robert and I were both in the same kindergarten class, and I still remember the day when my mother told me that he would no longer be going to school with me. Kids would teased, laugh and called him the r-word. I remember always getting into fights because of the teasing, I was very protective of him.

I am not sure when Robert left home, but I do remember as a young child visiting him at a facility called Forest Haven, located in Laurel, Maryland.  
Residents lived in tree-shaded dorms with bucolic names such as Elm or Poplar Cottage.  Robert lived in Poplar Cottage…and hated it there.

When we would visit Robert, he would always cry when we left. He loved coming home for visits, always thinking that he was there to stay. When it was time for us to take him back. He would sit in the car quietly until he saw the big “Pepsi Cola” sign from the highway. That sign would always trigger an emotional response from him. He would begin pulling at the back of my father’s car seat. We would have to hold onto him and try to calm him down.

This would go on for the rest of the ride. He would be crying and constantly saying, “don’t take me back, I don’t want to go back to pop cottage”, as he called it.

When the Forest Haven facility closed in 1991, Robert was then transferred to two other facilities, the last being RCM of Washington, Inc., in 1998.

I was never impressed when visiting the previous facilities where Robert resided.

However, when Robert was under the care of RCM, the first thing I noticed was how different he was, happy to see us when we visited, no problems when taking him home from a visit.

Robert was living in residential housing, and had his own room. His room was always neat and clean.

Once I went to pick Robert up for a home visit, I was told he was finishing up dinner. I could smell the home cooked food. Robert was sitting at the table eating nutritious food. Robert loved to eat.

Before he left he was handed a bag with his favorite treats…and we would stop on the way to get his diet coke and potato chips. Remember I said earlier that Robert did not like to see the large Pepsi Cola sign? There was no way he was going to drink a Pepsi!

His prescriptions where always ready for me with instructions, thanks to his wonderful nurse, Doris Goins, who always had them ready on time. I could call her at any time while he was visiting, and she was always available to answer my questions.

When I picked Robert up for visits he would have to hug everybody in the house before leaving. He would hurry down the front steps saying, “I’m going for a home visit, I’ll see you later!”

Once in the car, he would lean back, and say, “put my seatbelt on.” He would sing all of the songs on the radio as we were leaving…and he knew the words to most of them. He would always say, “you gonna bring me back home?” I would tell him, “we haven’t even got to my house yet…yes, I will bring you back home.

Robert would talk about all of his housemates and everyone that took care of him. If my phone rang, he would say, “is that Doris Goins?, always addressing her by her full name. He loved her so much.

He love going to day activities and would tell me what he learned, draw me pictures and sing songs.

He loved Scooby Doo and Batman. When he came for home visits, I would have to look through cable channels to find Scooby Doo cartoons. One day I couldn’t find Scooby Doo and put on another cartoon. He immediately noticed that it wasn’t Scooby Doo and let me know it. I kept searching and finally found it. Robert would blurt out the Scooby Doo or Batman theme songs right in the middle of eating, with a big grin…he was so happy.

He had a favorite song that I had to always sing with him in the car. I don’t know the name of it, but we sang: red leaves falling down, yellow leaves falling down, over all the town. He would always emphasize the word ‘town’ real loud. We would sing phrase, over-and-over again…all the way home.

We had no problem taking him home. We would be watching television, and Robert would say, “I’m ready to go home Rona”, that’s what he called me. If it was in the winter, he would get up and go to the closet, get his hat, coat and gloves and start putting them on.

Robert could be a comedian sometimes. My husband’s nickname is ‘Buster’. When Robert saw him he would say, “Brother-in-law, Buster Brown all around town.”

One time we were taking him home to his new house in Southeast, Washington, DC, and my husband made a wrong turn. Robert quickly grab the car seat and told him, “Go that way.” Sure enough, my husband had made a wrong turn. I was told by someone in the house that he knew the streets in the area from going to day activities.

What I like about RCM of Washington is that they kept Robert involved in activities. He was always involved in educational programs that helped him grow as an individual. He was attending field trips to museums, sports games, movies, and bowling. There was even a set day of the week that the residents went to the Chateau Club in DC.

Robert was in the Special Olympics.

Every summer he was off for a week vacation at the Sandbridge Beach. He really loved going and would constantly ask me how many days left before he would be going. He would tell me that he already had his suitcase packed.

Robert had seem to be gaining weight. RCM took note, put him on a diet…and he slimed down so nicely.

He really enjoyed the Annual Holiday Party. He would be all dressed up with a big smile when I got there, pulling me over to a table. His friends would stop by the table and say, “Robert Whiteing”, he would give the biggest grin and say, “this Rona my sister.” I would point to my husband and ask who he was, and he would say, “Brother-in-law, Buster Brown, all around town.

When Robert was diagnosed with Melanoma, I was immediately contacted. RCM staff took care of him, taking him to his doctor appointments. His nurse would always notify me of upcoming doctor appointments, procedures and his condition. Staff always called me when he returned home from an appointment. I had no worries, I knew that he was in good hands.

Robert succumbed to his Melanoma, and went to be with the Lord, in March 2012. His RCM family attended his funeral. It was heartwarming to see so many people that loved my brother.

I miss my ‘Big Teddy Bear’, as I always called him. He was one of the sweetest guys you could ever meet. I think about him all the time, especially around the Holidays.

I had the opportunity to visit the RCM offices last month. While standing at the receptionist desk, I noticed a picture tree. The first thing I saw was a picture of Robert and Amy Brooks, CEO, RCM of Washington, Inc. That did my heart good and made me smile. I always knew that the staff at RCM loved Robert, and he loved them. But seeing that picture, I knew, they have never forgotten him.

I know that Robert enjoyed the last fifteen years of his life, and is resting in peace.

RCM of Washington, Inc. is a wonderful organization, and is truly committed to their mission. This is only one story. I am sure all of their residents are treated with the same love, dignity and respect that they gave to Robert.

A big “Thank You” to all of the staff at RCM, for the love and care that you gave my brother, Robert.

 Robert was always a big guy for his age. I think he was around 15-years-old in this picture.

                                    Our parents, Vernon and Juanita Whiteing

                                 Here he is enjoying RCM's Annual Holiday Party.

                                                    Robert dropped the weight!

Robert and his nurse, Doris Goins. She is a wonderful and caring person. Thank you for all of the love and care you gave Robert. I know he loved you.

                                                            Vacation Time!
Here he is with Danielle M. Darby, Chief Operating Officer, RCM of Washington, Inc., Amy L. Brooks, Chief Executive Officer, RCM of Washington, Inc. (far right), and some of his friends.

                                               Spending time on vacation with friends.

                                                         Robert and Danielle

                                                                Robert and Amy.

                                                           Robert and friends.

                                                            Robert and Amy.

Robert's Birthday is on October 31st. They always celebrated his birthday at the Halloween Party...including a cake!

     Here he is with Susan C. Brooks, Operations Manager, RCM of Washington, Inc.

                                         His birthday cake...I know he enjoyed it!

                                                             My big 'teddy bear'.

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