Last night, after starting to get to know everyone, we found out what our sites were going to be for this program. Ours is Charles River Center, a nonprofit organization that helps and connects people who have intellectual and developmental disabilities. Today, we had a short introduction about the organization. We learned all about their missions. As a group, we saw 2 videos — the first video showed how people with intellectual disabilities were put into institutions with very few profesionals and nurses to help them and look after them. In these institutions, there was one professional for every 40 people. The people with disabilities didn’t get any instruction or attention to learn basic skills. We were very disturbed by this video, but a lot has changed since these in the 1960s.
The second video was the complete opposite and very inspirational. The video showed how far everyone has come and the widespread oppportunities people with disabilities now have. For instance, people with disabilities today have the opportunity to become part of their community by having jobs. As a result, working in the community has given them hope, confidence, and a sense of belonging.
The Charles River Center has group homes for people with disabilities. We met with one man who gave us a tour of his home. The first stop on the tour was his room where we learned he was a Red Sox fan. We then went down to the common room which he shares with his 8 other roommates. He explained to us their hobbies and how they interact with each other. Together, they play Wii, do puzzles, have BBQs, and so many other things. The man we met enjoyed showing us around his home.
Today we learned how such inhumane acts towards individuals with disabilities cannot be tolerated, the growth of awareness, and the importance of giving people opportunities in the community. We look forward to working with the Charles River Center throughout the rest of Impact Boston!
- Julia Cohen, New Jersey & Ben Alford, Massachusetts