Personal Story

Impact Feature Issue on Paraeducators Supporting Students with Disabilities and At-Risk

A Team Member: Kim's Story

Are you a member of a team? I’m involved with the Self-Advocacy Association of New York State, which has a grant from a national service organization, AmeriCorps, and I live by its ideals. AmeriCorps is the best thing that has happened to me. This great experience has given me the opportunity to teach other people about individuals with disabilities. Because I have cerebral palsy, it is extremely important to me that people see me first, my abilities, not just my disability. I have had some bad encounters because of my wheelchair. With AmeriCorps, I am able to turn those bad memories into valuable lessons for other people! People respect me and my teammates when we give presentations. So many businesses are afraid to hire the people with disabilities. But AmeriCorps looks at our abilities, not our disabilities. While we are in AmeriCorps, we also receive training that helps us with our personal growth and prepare us for future endeavors.

Being a member of AmeriCorps means the world to me. The coordinator, team leaders, and the other members make me feel very welcome and comfortable. My AmeriCorps team is my second family. With them, I am doing something that is very important to me, with people I really enjoy!

Contributed by Kimberly Ann Henchen, Spencerport, New York.