Disability

Kiwanis Aktion Clubs Converge on Rochester

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Volunteers from across New York descended on Rochester to share their ideas at the Kiwanis Aktion Club statewide conference this October.  Lifestyles’ own Kiwanians were among the groups represented who talked about leadership, their club activities, and why they give their time.

“Kiwanis Aktion Club members serve their communities,” explained Eric Schwacke.  “We’re here to serve. What can I can say – it’s a family.”

“With all that the Aktion Club members do, it’s a great feeling,” said Dennis Gable, advisor to the Staten Island contingent. “I’m very happy to be a part of it and to be involved with Lifestyles Aktion Club.”

Lifestyles was represented by Eric Schwacke, William Bush, Michael Cilmi and new member Kenneth Tobin, along with staff advisors Paula and Edward Gregory.  

This year, the Lifestyles group collected toys for children, raised money at a 60’s dance to send people to Kamp Kiwanis, and gave clothes and holiday gifts to residents of Project Hospitality. Other Aktion Clubs at the conference included Ontario County, Newark, Waterloo, Brighton, Brockport, and Gates.  The state clubs also conducted bake sales, clothing drives, arts and craft supply collections, car washes, disaster relief packages, and more.

The Gregorys made the most of crossing 300-plus miles of the state. They guided the four young men to some of the highlights of Central New York, taking in Lake Ontario, the Rochester Museum of Science and the Corning Museum of Glass.

The Aktion Clubs are Kiwanis groups of people with disabilities volunteering to support others.  There are more than 500 Aktion Clubs with more than 12,000 members worldwide.

  • Article by Eddy Gregory with Eric Schwacke and Meredith Arout.
  • Photography: Eric Schwacke
  • Video: Michael Cilmi, reporter, Eddy Gregory, producer.

Mandela Fellows Visit to U.S.

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More than twenty scholars of the Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders from countries all over sub-Saharan Africa spent the month of July learning what they could about nonprofit organizations and how they serve people here.  Fellows Omo from Nigeria and Jerrat from Cameroon shadowed a few programs within Lifestyles for the Disabled.

Life-Wire reporters Michael Cilmi and Joseph Jones had an opportunity to interview Omo and Jerrat.  They interviewed the pair about their work with the disabled community and their experience in the U.S.  Please listen at the link below and online at Lifestyles Radio.

Here are some images of their visit by our photo crew:

 

 

 

Darius McCollum Needs Help, Not Injustice

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Commentary written collaboratively by Aread Diaz, Anthony DiFato, Kareem Ellison, Frank Faretra, Matthew Ianelli, Joseph Jones, Michael Smith, with Edward Gregory.

Darius McCollum, a convicted train thief with Asperger’s Syndrome, will be getting mental help, instead of jail.  Will it be the kind of help he needs; will he be locked in an asylum; or will he be treated and released back into society?  What kind of help he gets, the courts will decide.  Life-Wire News Service has some opinions on the subject.  Here’s what we think:IMG_0626

Darius McCollum needs justice, not injustice from the justice department.  In fact, they put him in jail for a mental disorder that they know nothing about. How can you lock someone in an institution when he needs help? Being in a psych ward is like being in Hell, and that’s not fun.  Most people don’t or won’t understand his love for the transit system and calling him a thief.  Sometimes it’s hard to understand his mental disability. –Joseph Jones.

If he has a disorder, they should allow him to go to the hospital for his disorder.  They should help people when they have a disorder, not put them in jail. -Kareem Ellison

He needs help because he stole trains. Be good to yourself and others.  Do not send Darius to jail; he needs psychological help.  –Frank Faretra.

He’s a good bus driver and I seen lots of buses and I’ve seen a lot of people drive them.  Sometimes I see people drive the trains.  He needs a job, a career and mental help. –Michael Smith.

He should go to the hospital because he steals buses and trains, so he can get better.  –Matthew Ianelli.

People spend a lot of time talking about him as a notorious criminal.  But all he does with these vehicles is what the normal bus drivers do; but people say he does it better.  –Anthony DiFato.

He’s not that bad at all.  He needs help. If he doesn’t get his help, he could spend the rest of his life in jail or an asylum.  -Aread Diaz

We encourage the judge and the justice system to do what’s right for Darius McCollum.

Find out more at Free Darius Now Online.

Here is our recent review of the documentary: Off the Rails: Story of a One-Track Mind.

Night for All to Shine

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Everyone was a celebrity at a Night to Shine this past Friday, February 10th at The Staaten in West New Brighton.  The annual dinner hosted by the Tim Tebow Foundation is a festive prom-like atmosphere were people with special needs celebrate Valentine’s Day in style. The fete was posted locally by Calvary Chapel of Port Richmond. Life-Wire News Service’s own Eric Schwacke was on hand to capture the evening in photography.