Hi! My name is Ross Valore and I’m interning with AAPD this summer in their headquarters in DC. I’m working as the advocacy intern under Sarah Peterson and have been probably been doing everything she hasn’t wanted to do since I began – just kidding. Actually, I’ve been working on several different projects so far, but the one that has really struck my interest has been organizing and compiling all the different events surrounding the 25th anniversary of the ADA. This process has had many interesting aspects from cold calling different contacts AAPD has made and seeing if they knew of any events; to actually formatting all the events and creating a web page that can facilitate a information network for anyone looking for a local event or as a resource for someone trying to create their own. I won’t take all the credit for this project, or really any, as Sarah and the rest of the JFAN organizing group has done this in the past, and it seems to have gotten a great response and I hope for the same this time.
A topic I did want to address in this first blog is why I’m here at AAPD this summer. Coming into this internship I really had no idea what the disability community was or why I was chosen to be an intern here. I still remember during my phone interview for this position asking why I would be the right person for this job if I didn’t have a disability myself. So each day that I’m here at AAPD I continue to ponder this question, and each day I’m here it seems I find a new answer. I won’t use up all my future blog life lessons yet, but what has become abundantly clear is that if you are unable to identify with the disabled community after two weeks of being here, you must not have a heart – or a brain. Though, the one single thing that has undoubtedly amazed me the most is that people with disabilities are much more PEOPLE than they are disabilities. What I mean by that poor analogy is that, from what I’ve picked up in my first two weeks, those with disabilities just want to be treated like any other person, with dignity and respect.
The last thing I wanted to mention in this first blog post is the opportunity I have had to work on the interfaith innovative program. This program deals with the same types of disability rights issues as all the other programs at AAPD, but is directed at implementation in a very broad range of religious institutions. I’ve really enjoyed reading and becoming educated on this program as I have a deep interest in religion, and the creator and director of the program, Ginny Thornburgh, has been so gracious and accommodating it’s impossible for me not to want to become more involved.
Have a good weekend and root for Italy in the World Cup!!!