Creating connections for the disabled
By April Blake, firstname.lastname@example.org, 803-777-5984
Wendy Bryan understands the importance of making connections, especially for someone trying to live and work with a life-altering disability. For Bryan, it was her sight. She began losing her vision, bit by bit, because of damage to her optic nerves in both eyes.
After completing her undergraduate degree in psychology, Bryan didn’t know what she wanted to do until she talked with one of her professors who told her that the dream career that she was describing was social work. She enrolled in the College of Social Work and learned how to write strategic plans, to do advocacy work and to managing a nonprofit organization.
“I knew I wanted to get into nonprofit management but when I graduated in 2009 there were no jobs so I went ahead and took the social work licensing exam,” Bryan says. Following the exam, she obtained a social work job but found herself out of work after her vision loss.
“I was devastated because I was able to drive one day and then not the next,” she says. “I got really depressed for a while, but what I really needed was to meet other disabled social workers who could tell me ‘Wendy, you’re going to be able to do what you need to do.’
“But I didn’t find any resources that would connect me with other people with any disability who could still support me.”
That need for support is what drove her to fill the void and create those connections for disabled South Carolina residents.
SC Disability Connection serves two purposes. One is to make the nonprofit self-sustaining by offering online continuing education credits all social workers must take to maintain their licenses and stay current with new situations and laws. The second, and more important purpose, is to create support around the state for people with a disability.
People can connect and form mentor-mentee relationships or can team up to offer practical things to one another, such as someone who is hearing impaired giving someone who is blind a ride, and the blind person offering other assistance to the hearing impaired individual. The free support will be available both online and in person.
“The point is to get people connected to build friendships and relationships that work together,” she says.
Visit Disability Connections to learn more about services and ways to help.
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