shared courtesy of Disability Scoop
CHICAGO, Illinois – Carmela Mack wants to help people with disabilities because she knows what it feels like to be excluded
The 18-year-old with a hearing impairment is a student of the Direct Service Professional (DSP) Academy in Washington, D.C., where she plans to earn a certification to work in the field as an aide to people with disabilities.
“There are not enough people trying to advocate for people with disabilities,” Mack said. “I’m going to love this job because I’ve been through this and I know what it feels like to not be supported. I can connect with them because that was me.”
The academy is run by RCM of Washington, a company that provides support to people with disabilities. Its goal is twofold — provide career opportunities to people with disabilities while also addressing the shortage of home health aides and DSPs.
“Quite frankly from a business perspective, having an employee coming to you fully trained and qualified is good business practice,” said Susan Brooks, operations manager for RCM. She added that for the aide, “There’s a level of understanding and compassion and passion for what they’re doing as well as that strive to help someone achieve equity.”
The other 11 students in Mack’s training class have autism or other developmental or intellectual disabilities. The group is the second to enroll in the program, and the first adults. A group of nine high school seniors with disabilities graduated last spring from the course with at least one now working as an aide, Brooks said.