Tuesday, September 10, 2019
A new program trains people with disabilities to be aides for people with disabilities
Yesterday I read about an academy in Washington, D.C. that is training young people with autism and intellectual disability to become aides. Called Direct Service Professional Academy, it aims to give career opps to people with disabilities and help with the shortage of home health aides, reports Disability Scoop. One class of high school seniors has already graduated, and 12 students are currently enrolled.
"I'm going to love this job because I've been through it," and I know what it feels like to not be supported," says 18-year-old student Carmela Mack, who is hearing impaired, "I can connect with them because that was me."
During the 120-hour, six-week course, she and her fellow students learn about the history of disability rights, along with how to plan activities and coordinate public transportation. There are also sessions on health, wellness and other topics. They graduate with the skills and certifications they need to become a Direct Service Professional (DSP).
The Academy is run by RCM, a company that provides support to people with disabilities. It is funded by Washington's Department on Disability Services, and is free to participants. Graduates who go on to become aides are usually paid through Medicaid.
The program makes all the sense. Some people with disabilities need a helping hand. Many people with disabilities need a job—and they'd bring with them a special level of understanding and empathy. Why not match them up?