Dear First-Years,

To our wonderful first-years,

Welcome to FYSOP! We are beyond excited that you are here with us. There are many fantastic opportunities coming to you in the next week and we encourage you to take full advantage of all of them! Our sites are amazing and we can not wait to see what you all are able to accomplish at each one. For many of you, this may be your first experience interacting on a personal level with people living with disabilities. We urge everyone, regardless of your experience, to challenge yourself to gain new perspectives, absorb what you learn this week, and apply it in what you do in the future. Get to know your group, your staff, your co’s (that’s us!), and the people you meet on site – we are all here to help you make this the best FYSOP possible.

In the end, this is your week – you will get out of it what you put into it. Explore, step out of your comfort zone, learn, make friends, and have fun!

FYlove,
Sam & Ethan

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TRAVEL ITINERARIES

Moving off to college is so exciting but can be hectic with all the packing and traveling. Fortunately for you FYSOPers we try to make the transition as smooth as possible! Please take ONE MINUTE to fill out the mandatory FYSOP Travel Itinerary form. If your moving in from around the corner and just bringing one suitcase, or flying in from abroad and shipping all of your life’s belongings, we need to know your story! Where are you coming from? How are you getting here? Do you need a pick-up from the airport?

Help us make Move-In Day on August 26th a fun and exciting day by filling out your travel itinerary at http://fysoptravelitinerary.eventbrite.com/. This way we can welcome you to campus right when you arrive!

Travel Itinerary Promo Image

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A Global Perspective on Children Living with Disabilities

In the United States and other developed countries, living with a disability can pose many obstacles to an individual and the family of the individual’s social and economic well-being.  Around the globe, children living with disabilities in developing countries face even greater challenges as outlined in UNICEF’s State of the World’s Children report of 2013.

Our blog aims to highlight the challenges that children living with disabilities face in order to raise awareness and promote inclusion.  As the UNICEF report documents, “the inclusion of children with disabilities in society is possible – but it requires first a change of perception, a recognition that children with disabilities hold the same rights as others; that they can be agents of change and self-determination, not merely the beneficiaries of charity.”  The rights to inclusion that many children living in low- or middle-income countries face are due to problems of visibility.  Children born with disabilities in these countries are often not included in their respective country’s census, which hinders policy-making and the establishment of services that are beneficial to both children and their families.

Additionally, children living with disabilities are at greater risk of being poor even in comparison to their peers who are also members of a minority or already living in poverty and are less likely to attend school.  Girls living with a disability are considered to be “doubly disabled” as they are constrained by traditional gender roles and barriers.  Though these challenges are great, recent developments in assistive technology in these regions and inclusive programs that introduce children living with disabilities to regular classroom settings and sports programs have lessened the stigma of living with a disability.  A new approach to building design in developing countries focuses on a “universal” design approach that rests on the seven principles of “equitable use; flexibility in use; simple and intuitive use; perceptible information; tolerance for error; low physical effort; and size and space for approach and use.”[1]  When integrating a universal design into a new building, costs will generally increase by less than one percent of the capital development costs making universal design very cost-effective.

"Disabled Youth Participate in International Peace Day Activities" – © UNMIL Photo/Christopher Herwig

“Disabled Youth Participate in International Peace Day Activities” – © UNMIL Photo/Christopher Herwig

It is UNICEF’s belief that education is the key to fully integrating children living with disabilities into society by equipping them with the tools they should naturally have a right to acquire and by lessening the stigma of their conditions to those who are traditionally considered “able-bodied”.   Unfortunately, access to education is limited due to limited research and data collection that varies from country to country making educational curriculum that can be applied across borders difficult to create and implement.  Interestingly, efforts to measure child disability are often shaped by culture, which sets varying benchmarks for when children should be completing simple tasks.  For example, children in urban India typically don’t develop full control of a cup until 35 months of age whereas children in rural Thailand were completing the same task on average at 10 months.  Multiple Indicator Cluster Surveys (MICS) include the Ten Questions Screen, interview questions that are then followed up by an assessment.  Limited financial and personnel resources can make a follow-up assessment difficult, but many successful assessments have taken place typically when assessors are able to utilize existing workplaces and schools.  For example, in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, assessments took place in elementary school buildings on the weekends, making evaluations convenient for all parties.

Successful assessment leads to positive action and intervention on the behalf of children living with disabilities across the globe.  The adoption of landmark initiatives including the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) and the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) ensures that all children regardless of gender, minority status, poverty level, or degree of disability are provided with full opportunities to be happy and healthy members of society.  Not only does adaptation of such initiatives improve the lives of those living with disabilities, but brightens the lives of anyone who has the chance to interact with these individuals on a daily basis.


[1] United Nations. United Nations Children’s Fund. The State of the World’s Children 2013: Children with Disabilities. New York, 2013. 

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Site #7: TILL Autism Center

Hey all!

We’re enthralled to be able to volunteer with the TILL Autism Center again this year!  The Center works to provide resources to families living in the greater Boston area which include a family member with autism.  The TILL Autism Center provide a number of programs throughout the year.  This year our FYSOP volunteers will help run a field day in the Boston Common for many of the families that use the Center’s services.

Check out the Boston Common where first-years will participate in a field day for children living with autism!

Check out the Boston Common where first-years will participate in a field day for children living with autism!

Volunteers will participate in activities and bond with the families and the children living with autism through races, fun challenges, and other competitions.

This is a fantastic chance to interact in a one-on-one setting and see how much of an impact volunteering can have on a personal level.

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Site #6: Boston Home

We are very glad to continue our volunteer partnership with the Boston Home this year during FYSOP.  The specialized-care residence works with 96 adults living with advanced Multiple Sclerosis.

The Boston Home, founded in 1881

The Boston Home, founded in 1881

The Boston Home was founded in 1881, but it has not fallen behind technologically.  The Home boasts its own workshop that constructs and modifies assistive technologies like wheelchairs and other appliances for the residents of the Home.  We are looking forward to a tour of the workshop during our day of service at the Boston Home to see how equipment is modified and personalized for individual use by the residents.   Volunteers will work with staff to improve the grounds of the Home to ensure a clean and comfortable environment.

Further information can be found here: http://www.thebostonhome.org/

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Site #5: Hogan Regional Center

Hello, all!

Get excited for our next site: the Hogan Regional Center!  The Center is a residential and working program for people living with disabilities.  Their ultimate goal is to provide guidance and help the residents to live meaningful, productive, independent lives.  Residents can work a typical workday, with tasks like recycling, shredding documents, and maintaining a self-sustaining greenhouse.

Our site contact is wonderful, and we are glad to be able to work with him and the Hogan Regional Center again this year.  The Center will offer many different opportunities for those go volunteer; you’ll be working with the residents directly and participating in and helping with the activities they have planned for them that day.

We’re excited for this experience and we look forward to volunteering with this program!

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Site #4: Perkins School for the Blind

Hello, all FYSOPers!

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This year, we’re proud to say that we will have the opportunity to tour the campus of the Perkins School for the Blind!

The school aims to provide education and services for children and adults who are blind, deafblind, or visually impaired.  The school works with over 200 students in their residential and day programs, and they work with people ranging in ages from newly born to the age of 22, but often the students only attend for a few years before attending a public school.

Those who go on site will receive a private tour of the facilities, including a chapel, workshops and classrooms, and a specialized gym and playground.  There’s even a tactile museum and library, and Sam really loved the swan!

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You’ll learn a lot on site, but for those who want to read up before, their website has a lot of information: http://www.perkins.org/

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