Below is a guest post by Lexie Larcinese, a speech pathology master’s student and graduate assistant for C-STAR. During the last six weeks, several individuals with aphasia participated in a course about community leadership and advocacy hosted by Able SC. Able SC is a non-profit organization with the mission to empower individuals with disabilities. You can read about Able SC here:

Read on for Lexie’s post about the course and recent graduation!

Pictured above: CLA participants from C-STAR and Able SC

On August 23rd, 2018, members of our USC Aphasia Lab community graduated from a 6-week course that taught skills relating to community leadership and advocating for individuals with disabilities.  Course topics included learning how to network and serve on community boards and councils within to ensure that all people are included in every aspect of community life.  Dori Tempio, the Director of Community Outreach & Consumer Rights at Able SC, led this course.  During the graduation, Tempio shared that people with disabilities “live in the same world that everyone else does, so we can educate the community on how to be more inclusive.”

During the course, participants set goals for their involvement in community advocacy.  Their individual goals were diverse, ranging from helping the community become more inclusive of service animals to “helping nonprofit organizations communicate more effectively through their websites and literature to be more inclusive of people with disabilities.”

Charles Nottingham’s goal is to advocate for individuals with aphasia or stroke by educating rehabilitation professionals.  He is determined to achieve this goal by volunteering at a hospital or being on a board related to individuals with aphasia or stroke.  Nottingham stated, “I have a ‘I don’t give up’ attitude, which means if I put my mind to it, I can get it done.”

Following his stroke, Zach Bsat “refused to be labeled by what [his] motor functions were, so [he] forced [himself] to walk.”  Zach’s story made the audience laugh, as he shared that his determination to walk caused nurses to chase him down the halls.  He hopes to inspire others with his determination and encourage others to persevere and achieve their own goals.

It is clear that each individual who took this community leadership course gained insight on how to advocate for themselves and all individuals with disabilities, and are ready to make a difference within the community.  If you are interested in participating in similar leadership opportunities, please let us know, or contact Able SC!