UCP to Host Mandela Washington Fellow

 

 

 

UCP SMALL                   NMF LOGO

 

 

Contact:                                                                                  FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Ellie Collinson                                                                                     August 8, 2016
ecollinson@ucp.org
202-973-7109

 

UCP welcomes Tobiloba Ajayi as a part of the Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders Initiative.

Washington, DC (August 8, 2016) – United Cerebral Palsy is pleased to announce that they have been chosen as a host for the 2016 Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders Initiative. Tobiloba Ajayi, a Nigerian attorney and cerebral palsy advocate, will be joining the UCP staff for six weeks in order to polish her leadership skills and foster professional growth as part of her Professional Development Experience.

 

The Mandela Washington Fellowship, a key piece of President Obama’s Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI), equips young African leaders with the opportunity to engage in leadership training, professional opportunities, networking, and community support. Fellows are selected based on their extensive record of accomplishment in promoting and innovating positive change throughout their community in one of the 49 countries in Sub-Saharan Africa. After the Fellows attend a six-week Academic and Leadership Institute and meet with President Obama in Washington, DC, they will join private businesses, NGOs, and government agencies across the United States for an additional six week practicum. Here, the 100 Fellows in the program are granted a unique opportunity to develop a mentorship that will continue to assist them even as they resume their leadership development back home.

 

At United Cerebral Palsy, Ajayi will be working closely with UCP’s Program Department on the creation of international resource and emergency preparedness guides for people with disabilities.

 

To learn more about UCP and the Mandela Washington Fellowship program, visit www.ucp.org or yali.state.gov.

 

###

About United Cerebral Palsy

United Cerebral Palsy (UCP) educates, advocates and provides support services through an affiliate network to ensure a life without limits for people with a broad range of disabilities. Together with over 70 affiliates, UCP has a mission to advance the independence, productivity and full citizenship of people disabilities by supporting more than 176,000 children and adults every day—one person at a time, one family at a time. UCP works to enact real change—to revolutionize care, raise standards of living and create opportunities—impacting the lives of millions living with disabilities. For more than 60 years, UCP has worked to ensure the inclusion of individuals with disabilities in every facet of society. Together, with parents and caregivers, UCP will continue to push for the social, legal and technological changes that increase accessibility and independence, allowing people with disabilities to dream their own dreams, for the next 60 years, and beyond. For more information, please visit www.ucp.org.

 

About Mandela Washington Fellowship

The Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders is a U.S. government program that is supported in its implementation by the International Research & Exchanges Board (IREX). For more information about the Mandela Washington Fellowship, visit yali.state.gov and join the conversation with #YALI2016.

“Halloween Without Limits” Proves To Be A Real Treat!

During the month of October we asked to see the most creative and fun costumes for children with disabilities, and did you deliver! More than 60 photos featuring costume creations from all over were posted to our Facebook page. Nearly 10 MILLION of you saw photos from the contest on Facebook! With nearly 400,000 votes cast, the winner of Halloween Without Limits “let go” of the completion with over 120,000 votes! Congratulations to our winner, “Olaf and his Snow Cloud” from the movie “Frozen!”

Sandy Hundsrucker Olaf

 

The UCP Staff pick for the “Most Creative Costume” goes to the “Penalty Box!” We collectively thought this costume was so unique and had so many cool touches.

Kimberly Domonkos_HalloweenWithoutLimits

 

We had so many amazing entries that we had to show them off! Some of our honorable mentions go to…

The “Despicable Me” crew:

Wayne Cordova

This adorable “Care Bear”:

Kelly Cunningham_HalloweenWithoutLimits

This awsomely-constructed “Alice and Wonderland”:

Katherine Talbott Alice in Wonderland

Take a look in our photo album for all of the amazing entries!

Facing the Day with Dignity

Today is the 25th anniversary of the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). This landmark legislation guaranteed increased access for people with disabilities in almost every facet of community life. The doors to full participation, independent living, and economic self-sufficiency for persons with disabilities opened metaphorically and literally in many cases.

11JE04GDAs an organization which serves and supports people with a broad range of disabilities and their families, UCP is keenly aware of the profound difference this singular act made in the lives of so many people – whether they realize it or not.

 

At the 25 year mark, there now exists an entire generation of people with disabilities who have matured into adulthood under the legal protections of the ADA. They expect accessible entrances to public building, wheelchair ramps and curb cuts, closed-captioning and sign language interpreters, and accessible public transportation options. And, for 20-somethings without disabilities, these accommodations have become a part of their consciousness as well. Even if they don’t experience disability personally, many people benefit from the changes brought about by the ADA. Just think of the young mother with a stroller who no longer has to deal with high curbs at each crosswalk.

ucp_logo_tagline-1

 

However, there are still physical and attitudinal challenges to overcome and advocates are still needed. Every year, investigations are open and lawsuits are filed over issues of ADA compliance. And, every year, government officials, disability experts, lawyers and judges debate the meaning and application of various provisions in the law. Are the drivers for companies like Uber and Lyft independent contractors, not necessarily bound by the ADA? Are service animals always allowed in public school classrooms no matter the circumstances? What, exactly, do the words “reasonable accommodations” mean?

iStock_000012685951XSmall

 

Like any other law, we will continue to debate the details and try to adapt interpretation of the now decades-old language to a rapidly changing landscape. However, we think that the true accomplishment of the ADA will not ultimately be judged by changes to transportation, education, or access to a local public library. The real victory to be claimed by the disability advocates and allies who worked for the law is the opportunity it provides for people with disabilities to face each new day with dignity that comes with full equality.

 

Regardless of the tactics it employs, the law explicitly states that:

 

“Physical or mental disabilities in no way diminish a person’s right to fully participate in all aspects of society…

 

It makes the unequivocal statement that in the eyes of Congress, representatives of “We the People,” people with disabilities are people, first and foremost, as well as full citizens of the United States. It is a recognition that the aspects of our society which prevent a person with a disability from being fully able to participate need to be addressed and Congress intends to provide a “…national mandate for the elimination of discrimination against individuals with disabilities.” It is the law of the land and confirmation that people with disabilities should never again have to accept anything less than opportunities provided to their peers.

UCP Affiliates Earn Awards for Excellence

UCP would like to congratulate our 2015 Awards for Excellence winners! Thank you for your hard work and dedication you show to our affiliates organizations and people with disabilities and their families in your communities. These amazing programs and people will be honored at UCP’s Annual Conference in Chicago May 20-22.

The 2015 Award Winners:

Nina Eaton Program of the Year
Life Without Limits Clinic (nominated by UCP of Greater Birmingham)
This award is given to a program or service of a UCP affiliate that has made an extraordinary contribution to the quality of life of people with disabilities, enabling individuals served to become more independent, productive, or integrated into the family or community.
Ethel Hausman Volunteer of the Year
Dr. Eva Ritvo (nominated by UCP of South Florida)
This award is given to a volunteer who has made an outstanding contribution to a UCP affiliate and to the quality of life of people with disabilities.
Outstanding Youth
Daniel Lopez and Lake Periman (nominated by  UCP of Central Florida)
This award honors youth who have significantly enhanced the lives of people with disabilities through care giving, volunteerism, advocacy, innovation or fundraising.
Life Without Limits
O’Ryan Case (nominated by UCP National Staff)
This award goes to an individual with disabilities who has demonstrated leadership and achievement of such caliber as to be a significant role model to individuals with and without disabilities.
In addition to these awards, UCP will be honoring 100 outstanding volunteers at the Annual Conference, which we call our Victory 100. UCP believes in the strength of its volunteer network and values volunteers as the working core of the UCP family. The organization was founded through the efforts of volunteers, and we continue to build on that strength. The UCP Victory 100 Awards recognize the dedicated volunteers who have given 100 or more hours of support to UCP through our affiliates across the country.

What Do YOU Know about UCP?

United Cerebral Palsy: Life without limits for people with disabilities

What do YOU know about UCP? We’re a network of affiliated nonprofit organizations working to ensure a Life without Limits™ for both children and adults with a broad range of disabilities and their families.

Tell Us More About The UCP Network.

UCP’s approximately nearly 80 affiliated organizations range from large providers like Gillette Children’s Specialty Healthcare in Minnesota, to smaller but no less impactful organizations from New England to California. Our affiliates’ influence can be felt as far away as Canada and Australia.

Each organization acts independently to provide the advocacy, support and services needed in their communities. Many have programs in place to address direct needs for therapy, housing, transportation, employment and family support. Many spend time advocating for public policy changes at the local, state and even national level. Many work to raise awareness of the issues facing people with disabilities and their families, and all work to secure the necessary resources to carry out UCP’s mission.

Who, Exactly, Do You Serve?

UCP is proud to serve people with a range of disabilities, their families, and by extension their communities. Sometimes, you will hear that 65% of the people served by UCP affiliates have disabilities in addition to, or other than, cerebral palsy. While percentages vary by affiliate and can change over the years, the truth is that UCP places a priority on serving people in need, regardless of diagnosis. UCP providers typically serve people with the most severe and multiple disabilities.24JL04GD

At the national level, UCP advocates for change in public policy. And, we work to raise awareness of the major issues common to many people with disabilities: access, resources, support and respect. At the local level, UCP affiliates work hard to provide the supports and services most needed in their communities. Their capacity to serve is only bound by the resources they have available.

If You Serve People with All Disabilities, Why Are You Called United Cerebral Palsy?

We are proud of our heritage. United Cerebral Palsy’s name has a long history, going back to 1949. In the 1940s, there were not many options for families of and people with cerebral palsy and other disabilities. What began as the brainstorm of a few parents of children with cerebral palsy quickly grew in to a nationwide crusade to improve the lives of people with all disabilities. From it’s inception, UCP brought issues about cerebral palsy and other developmental disabilities to the forefront of the national media.

While the words “United Cerebral Palsy” do not fully express the scope of our work, UCP has served as a trusted name for millions of people for more than 60 years. As with many iconic brands, which have grown and evolved over time, the true heart of our identity lies in the associations people make when they hear our name, not in the name itself.11JE04GD

Why Don’t You Just Focus on Cerebral Palsy?

Because more than 176,000 people rely on UCP every day. If we can advocate for a public policy that provides access to more affordable housing options for with disabilities, should we apply that policy only to people with CP? If we can encourage respect for all people, should we only try to put an end to bullying against children with CP? If we can inspire an innovator to design a device that is more accessible, should we insist that only people with CP be able to use it? United Cerebral Palsy works hard to help individuals overcome barriers to a Life Without Limits™, and we have found that sometimes the biggest barriers of all are the ones that come with assigning labels and defining limits.

What Does it Take to Live a Life Without Limits?

Here’s the personal story of Ula, who has challenges due to cerebral palsy as well as the normal ups and downs common to many people with and without disabilities. Her secret to living a life without limits? Taking care of herself and pursuing the things that make her happy, rather than focusing on other’s expectations. 

 

My name is Ula, I’m 34 years old and I have mild cerebral palsyUla Thepsouvanh

My mother was pregnant with me when she came to Canada from Laos. I was born with the umbilical cord wrapped around my neck and was pronounced dead for 5 minutes.

My parents, whom I love very much, kind of wrote me off. They thought that they would be stuck caring for me until one of us dies. They were fresh off the boat from Asia when my mother gave birth to me. So they had a lot on their plate just adjusting to life in Canada with my grandparents and my brother.

I have tremors all though my body and speech impediment for which I took speech and physical therapy. When I was a teenager I felt that I was “too cool for school” and quit therapy because it was boring. It was one of my regrets in life. I didn’t see the value of therapy until it was too late.

When I was 17 years old I wanted my driver’s license. It took me almost a year to convince my parents to teach me to drive and another few years before I decided to take my test. I failed my first time but passed the second time. I remember coming home and telling my parents I got my driver license, my parents and I started to cry. They were tears of joy and shock. It was one of my proudest moments. I did not think I was capable of getting my driver’s license because of my uncontrollable tremors. Surprisingly my tremors did not play a part in the way I drove.

I attended college for three years studying human services and Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) support work. I received assistance from an employment service for people with disabilities, which found me a job at the YMCA starting in a preschool summer day camp. I have been there for eleven years now working at a youth shelter as a counselor.

I was 26 when I met William, the love of my life, and we married three years later. We have travelled the world together. William is musician and a professional artist and no, he does not have a disability. When we were dating we bought a karaoke machine, which we used almost every day for six months. One day William told me: “Babe you’re a good singer and have a beautiful voice. All I can think is “okay no I don’t, did you forget that I have CP and a speech impediment?” After we got married we decided to take singing lessons together. Our voice coach, Cesar Aguilar, trained us in classical and in opera.Ula Photo 2

“Working with Ula was a wonderful rewarding experience. The lessons we had with her and her husband Will were always filled not only with singing but also with laughter and joy,” says my voice coach. “Ula always showed up to lessons with a great attitude and ready to have fun and learn new songs. Although sometimes overwhelmed by some of the songs or vocal and breathing exercises I gave her she always put her best foot forward and tried everything I asked. She was always aware of her speech impediment although it never interfered with her ability to sing.”

I asked my musician husband to teach me guitar and he suggested trying the ukulele because it’s small and only has four strings. I have been playing for four years now. I have always liked music and knew I had an aptitude for it. Someday in the near future I could see myself preforming live. I want to start a band with other women with disabilities.

For me, having CP means I am committed to self-care everyday. My life is structure; I wake up, do yoga, I go to the gym, play ukulele, and visit my grandparents. I do this everyday before going to work in the evening. I have to take care of myself physically and mentally. Taking care of myself gives me confidence and that confidence curbs my tremors.

I think there is always going to be a part of me that is bitter and jealous toward people that don’t have disability. I do have dark days. I think I don’t mind having cp. I think it helped shape who I am today; I like who I am. However I sometimes wish that people would just keep their thoughts and question to themselves. I don’t know how many times I get of accused of being drunk when I’m in public. There was one time I went to a grocery store. Three cashiers followed me out and tried to block me from getting in the car because they though I was intoxicated and threatened to call the police. I had to explain to them that I have disability. I was humiliated and angry I spent hours and hours crying. I get weird looks and I hear whispers – “why does she talk that way.”

But, it is hard to picture my life without CP. What kind of career path would I’ve had taken? What kind of a relationship would I have with my friends and family? Would I be in the popular crowd like my siblings? Cerebral palsy or not, everybody has limitations. These limitations are determined by the body and mind and not by other people. It’s up to me and you to test those limitations to the best of our abilities.

Family Ties Ensure a Life Without Limits

The following is a guest post by Betsy Mays, 24 who has three older siblings including Blake (31), Lauren (30), and Jamie (26). Lauren has Cerebral Palsy. 

Mays Family at the Beach

Mays Family at the Beach

“My sister Lauren is one of my best friends and she has Cerebral Palsy. Growing up I don’t think I realized that there was anything too different about my sister. I knew that she couldn’t walk, but that didn’t stop my brothers and I from wheeling (or dragging) her around. I knew she couldn’t talk, but my family created a type of communication that worked for us; we are all REALLY good at 20 questions. I knew she couldn’t care for herself, but that’s what we were all there for!

I loved and still love being around my big sister at every waking moment. She is my audience when my parents or brothers couldn’t stand to watch one more of my performances. She is my go to person when I want to go swimming, and she is the one person in my family that knows all my secrets!

Mays Family PortraitGrowing up my mom always told my brothers and I that not everyone would always be as kind to my sister as we would hope or that people may stare at her because they simply didn’t understand what Cerebral Palsy is. So, being the outspoken little ball of joy that I was, I loved to educate my friends (and strangers who loved to stare) about my sisters condition! I would let everyone know that my sister wasn’t “crippled” but that she was just like everyone else, and she just so happened to have Cerebral Palsy.  My sister has always, and continues to, live a life without limits.

I remember when my siblings and I were little we would put her on a sleeping bag or a bean bag and pull her around the house so she could play with us. My brothers and I made sure to always include her, and my parents made sure that Lauren was involved in anything she wanted to! She was an excellent student, participated in school plays, Special Olympics, and and graduated with a regular high school diploma!

She loves to go to the beach, swim, and loves to be around the whole family. My nephews and niece are growing up around my sister and they love their Aunt LaLa. At such a young age they have learned that a person is not defined by a disability!

Now that we are all older, my sister has developed health problems that my family was not quite prepared for. We have never really needed any extra assistance because my sister’s health has never been an issue that we couldn’t handle on our own. Lauren was the person in our family that was virtually never sick! Thankfully my family is really close and we have great friends who continue to show us love and support, and my sister is tough as nails!

Mays Halloween

Halloween

I am thankful that my sister has always been treated with respect and compassion by everyone she encounters. All of my siblings have grown up to be in helping professions- go figure! Blake is a police officer, Jamie is currently in school for health promotion, and I am a social worker. We all try to be advocates for people living with disabilities and I hope that other families out there are doing their best to educate family, friends, and strangers about what it means to live with a disability. I cannot speak for everyone, but my family lives to ensure that Lauren can live a life without limits!”

DC RESEARCH & DEVELOPMENT LEADER CHOSEN TO HEAD UCP’S TECHNOLOGY EFFORTS

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

CONTACTS:
Lauren Cozzi, 202-973-7114, lcozzi@ucp.org 
Alicia Kubert Smith, 202-973-7168, akubertsmith@ucp.org

DC RESEARCH & DEVELOPMENT LEADER CHOSEN TO HEAD UCP’S TECHNOLOGY EFFORTS

Irlandez to launch Life Labs, Strengthen Life Without Limits Initiative

Washington, DC (December 16, 2011) – United Cerebral Palsy (UCP), an international service provider and advocate for children and adults with a spectrum of disabilities, has appointed Marc Irlandez, a technologist with more than a decade’s long track-record of successfully producing innovative technology solutions for complex problems, as its new Director of Technology. Irlandez starts with UCP on December 21, 2011.

Irlandez has served in District of Columbia’s Office of the Chief Technology Officer since 2008, during which he held positions as head of OCTO Labs and Director of Research and Development. During his tenure, he was accountable for initiatives supporting innovation with new technologies within all DC government agencies. At UCP, he will lead a team implementing Life Labs, UCP’s Research and Development Program designed to harness technology to create innovative solutions for people with disabilities, and will implement a technology plan to serve UCP’s 84 affiliates while helping to implement technology solutions for UCP’s public education and outreach and Life Without Limits initiatives.

“We are thrilled to welcome Marc to the UCP family at this important time in the organization’s history,” said Stephen Bennett, President and Chief Executive Officer of UCP. “Marc brings a wealth of experience in using technology to help people connect with one another, which is core to the mission of UCP.”

Prior to serving in city government, Irlandez was a Senior Developer with Zenoss, an Annapolis, Md.-based technology firm; a Consulting Engineer with Opsware/HP in New York City; and a Computer Scientist and Project Leader at the Naval Research Laboratory in Washington, DC. He has also head technology leadership positions at AOL/Time Warner, wellspent.org, the Economist Magazine/CFO.com, Learning In Progress, the Sapient Corporation and Magnet Interactive. He holds a bachelor’s degree in computer science from The George Washington University.

“I am excited to join UCP and to be entrusted with its technology vision,” Irlandez said. “I believe in UCP’s mission and that Life Labs will become a model of how technology can transform lives in meaningful ways.”

About United Cerebral Palsy
United Cerebral Palsy (UCP) educates, advocates and provides support services to ensure a life without limits for people with a spectrum of disabilities. Together with nearly 100 affiliates, UCP has a mission to advance the independence, productivity and full citizenship of people with disabilities by supporting more than 176,000 children and adults every day—one person at a time, one family at a time. UCP works to enact real change—to revolutionize care, raise standards of living and create opportunities—impacting the lives of millions living with disabilities. For more than 60 years, UCP has worked to ensure the inclusion of individuals with disabilities in every facet of society. Together, with parents and caregivers, UCP will continue to push for the social, legal and technological changes that increase accessibility and independence, allowing people with disabilities to dream their own dreams, for the next 60 years, and beyond. For more information, please visit www.ucp.org.

###

ABLE Happy Hour on Wednesday Supports Life Without Limits for People with Disabilities

MEDIA ADVISORY: Request for Coverage & Attendance  

ABLE PROGRAM & EVENT CONTACT:
Michael Piel: 202-973-7110, mpiel@ucp.org

MEDIA CONTACTS:
Lauren Cozzi: 202-973-7114 (direct), LCozzi@ucp.org
Alicia Kubert Smith: 202-973-7168 (direct), AKubertSmith@ucp.org  

ABLE happy hour on Wednesday supports life without limits for people with disabilities  

Raffle Prizes Include an iPad, Nats Tickets & Restaurant Vouchers  

Washington, DC (September 13, 2011) – ABLE, the young professionals network of United Cerebral Palsy (UCP), a leading service provider and advocate for children and adults with a spectrum of disabilities, will host the ABLE Young Professionals Network Inaugural Happy Hour, Wednesday, September 14, 6:00 – 8:00 p.m., Madhatter DC, 1319 Connecticut Ave. NW, Washington, DC.

  • WHO:       ABLE, the young professionals network of UCP  
  • WHEN:     Wednesday, September 14, 6:00 – 8:00 p.m.       
  • WHERE:   Madhatter DC, 1319 Connecticut Ave. NW, Washington, DC.
  • COST:      $10 donation

 

ABLE is a group of young professionals committed to supporting UCP. Members advance UCP’s mission to create a life without limits for people with a spectrum disabilities, and they find opportunities to increase education and awareness of disability issues. There are no membership fees; and, members are asked to support UCP in the following ways:

  • *volunteering at local affiliates and in the community;
  • *attending social events (happy hours, lecture series, etc.); and
  • *participating in fundraising opportunities.

ABLE offers young professionals in the Washington, DC area a chance to network with others who sharing the same passion, allowing them to become knowledgeable on the issues and gain valuable experience. Learn more at ucp.org/about/able.

About United Cerebral Palsy

United Cerebral Palsy (UCP) educates, advocates and provides support services to ensure a life without limits for people with a spectrum of disabilities. UCP and its nearly 100 affiliates advance the independence, productivity and full citizenship of people with a spectrum of disabilities by providing services and support to more than 176,000 children and adults every day—one person at a time, one family at a time. We work to enact real change—to revolutionize care, raise standards of living and create opportunities—impacting the lives of millions living with disabilities. For more than 60 years, UCP has worked to ensure the inclusion of individuals with disabilities in every facet of society. Together, with parents and caregivers, we continue to push for the social, legal and technological changes that increase accessibility and independence, allowing people with disabilities to dream their own dreams for the next 60 years, and beyond. For more information, please visit www.ucp.org.  

 

# # #

Recap

So I haven’t been on for a while so let us just recap on how things are going.

There are three parts to the project we need to work out,

One the input ( the actual tracking of the eye)

Two the actual software running on the arduino

Three outputting the data back to the computer

The first part is going well the eye tracking software is semi- useable at this point. There is still some inaccuracy but in good conditions it is good enough to hit a small button. There are a few things holding this back, one the camera is not a in color or a high resolution. The camera is also not mounted onto a pair of glasses as we are planning to this causes it to move in relation to your eyes and then thereby cause shifts on the screen and the nouse not being exactly where you are looking. So these should be easily solved once we mount a good camera in a pair of glasses.

The second part is currently the hardest. We are trying to some how run a majority of the software on the micro-controller, even the it supports the .NET framework used by the software and has expandable memory to fit the software. We still need to cross compile it to work on the arduino this is mainly what I am working on.

The final step is actually outputting to the PC. This is why we are using the Wii remote; for it’s bluetooth capabilities. We need to unsolder the accelerometer and use those inputs once we are done the rest of the software.

-Manbir Gulati