The wonderful reason this nonprofit is bringing people with disabilities together.
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State Farm

It's not easy for the average person to strike up a conversation with a stranger.

It's hard for people with developmental disabilities too.

Rachel with another Path to Success student. All photos via Upworthy.


That's why Rachel Goldschmidt went to Your Path to Success (YPTS). Started by Dreams for Kids D.C., it's a mentorship program that helps adults with developmental disabilities improve their social skills and gain independence.

Goldschmidt had been diagnosed with developmental delays in speech and fine motor skills when she was 3 years old. As an adult, she was looking to strengthen her social comfortability.

She ended up doing so well in the program that she came back as a mentor, so she could help others too.

"Now that I’ve overcome my own challenges, I want to share those strategies with other young adults who have disabilities," says Goldschmidt.

Rachel Goldschmidt.

Her first mentee was 20-year-old Jada Williams.

Williams has hydrocephalus, which means there's a build up of cerebrospinal fluid in her brain — a condition that has left her developmentally disabled. She hoped to gain more confidence in social settings with YPTS.

Williams and Goldschmidt started the program somewhat timidly, but eventually they began to let each other in.

Williams and Goldschmidt hanging out at a soccer game.

They spent time together cleaning up Rock Creek Park in Washington, D.C., along with other students, but their bond really grew when they hung out at a soccer game.

Soon they were having casual coffee dates outside the program on their own time.

But it's not just about forming friendships. YPTS wants to help students succeed professionally too.

Stacy Herman and Glenda Fu lead a YPTS workshop.

"We really want to help them build not only social relationships but also do their resumes and mock interviews to get them comfortable sitting in an interview and meeting someone for the first time," explains Stacy Herman, director of inclusion and accessibility at Edlavitch DC Jewish Community Center, which works with YPTS.

They're also finding companies that are amenable to having mentees go for a site visit and meet higher-ups who might one day call them in for an interview. The hope is they'll get more and more comfortable with unfamiliar social settings until they're able to rock a job interview.

After 21 days of mentorship, Williams' has more self-assurance to take on the world.

Williams and Goldschmidt meeting new people after the soccer game.

She also has a new friendship with someone who understands what she's going through better than most. That's no small accomplishment.

"I think as they progress, their walls and barriers will come down even more and they’ll really develop this friendship," says Glenda Fu, executive director of Dreams for Kids, DC.

Most importantly, though, Williams is learning how to connect with new people in a meaningful way, which will no doubt help her find her way in life.

Watch Williams and Goldschmidt's whole story here:

This program is teaching adults with disabilities the skills they need to build relationships and find careers.

Posted by Upworthy on Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
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Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

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Courtesy of CeraVe
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"I love being a nurse because I have the honor of connecting with my patients during some of their best and some of their worst days and making a difference in their lives is among the most rewarding things that I can do in my own life" - Tenesia Richards, RN

From ushering new life into the world to holding the hand of a patient as they take their last breath, nurses are everyday heroes that deserve our respect and appreciation.

To give back to this community that is always giving so selflessly to others, CeraVe® put out a call to nurses to share their stories for a chance to be featured in Heroes Behind the Masks, a digital content series shining a light on nurses who go above and beyond to provide safe and quality care to patients and their communities.

First up: Tenesia Richards, a labor and delivery nurse working in New York City who, in addition to her regular job, started a community outreach program in a homeless shelter that houses expectant mothers for up to one year postpartum.

Tenesia | Heroes Behind the Masks presented by CeraVe www.youtube.com

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