DANVILLE - The Pennsylvania Mental Health Consumers' Association announced the first of two winners of a $2,500 mini-grant, part of that organization's efforts to erase the stigma that is often borne by people with disabilities.
The awards are funded through a larger grant from the Pennsylvania Developmental Disabilities Council to the PMHCA, which is spearheading The Stigma Project in Pennsylvania.
Ricki M. Boyle, director of special education & Early Childhood Services for the Central Susquehanna Intermediate Unit in Milton, secured a grant for Project YouToo, a proposed collaborative effort between the CSIU and Geisinger Medical Center. The project will include the production of videos to be distributed through social and traditional media channels, highlighting the CSIU's Work Foundations + Program, which provides part and full-time vocational training and work study experiences for secondary level students with special needs.
The Project YouToo video series will show the capabilities of special needs students as they provide meaningful services to the staff and patients at Geisinger Medical Center. Students with disabilities will be involved in all facets of Project YouToo, from planning to production, and from editing to starring in the videos.
It is Boyle's hope that viewers will see for themselves how people with disabilities make valuable contributions in the workplace, and also how well they can be integrated into a work environment.
"All of the grant applications were worthy of support, so it was a difficult decision for the selection committee to narrow down the list," said Lynn Keltz, Executive Director of the PMHCA. "But in the end, Ricki's application stood out because of the level of creativity involved and the way she and the students envision showcasing the work that young people with disabilities are already doing. PMHCA is proud to support the students and to help further the work that CSIU is doing at Geisinger."
The Stigma Project, administered by the PMHCA through the support of the Pennsylvania Developmental Disabilities Council, is dedicated to eliminating the stigma sometimes attached to people with disabilities. The PMHCA believes that with education comes understanding, inclusion and an end to stigma. This is the first year of a multi-year campaign, with the initial focus on central Pennsylvania. PMHCA will introduce the Stigma Project to other parts of Pennsylvania in the coming years. To learn more, visit www.pmhca.org/stigmaproject.
The second grant announcement will be made in the coming weeks.