12 special needs students took part in and graduated from Triangle’s 2016 IMPACT:Ability program this week, where they learned vital self-protection skills aimed at empowering and enabling them for better educational opportunities.

By Ariana Colozzo

On Tuesday morning, 12 students in two classes at Somerville High School graduated from Triangle’s 2016 IMPACT:Ability program. As people with disabilities are much more likely to face bullying, abuse and other significant barriers than those without disabilities, IMPACT:Ability works to empower these individuals by giving them the tools they need to lead safe and productive lives.

The program teaches students self-defense techniques based on each student’s individual needs. Through a partnership with Triangle’s Empowering People for Inclusive Communities (EPIC), IMPACT:Ability provides self-advocacy training, helping them to stand up to abuse and lead independent lives. Students learn to establish safe boundaries with others, defend themselves with hands-on protection skills, discourage potential threats and report unsafe situations to paraprofessionals and other trusted adults, using assistive technology and communication devices if necessary.

Additionally, the program works with the community to battle abuse against those with disabilities. It offers abuse reporting and response classes for teachers, nonprofit staff and state employees to help them identify and effectively report abuse to the proper authorities and teach them how to give abuse survivors the support and referrals they need.

IMPACT:Ability has had a great effect on these students. One student used the skills he learned to stop a robbery, and another student participating in a summer employment program used them to stop a coworker from touching her inappropriately, and then immediately reported the situation to her supervisor.

Parents are also grateful for the experience. One parent of two daughters with Autism Spectrum Disorder was thrilled that her daughters kept using the skills months after IMPACT:Ability ended. While teaching one of her daughters to take public transportation, she was able to calmly tell the person waiting behind her to board a bus – without her mother’s help – that he was standing too close and diffuse the situation.

She said, “As a parent, I feel reassured that my daughters can learn how to handle challenging and potentially unsafe situations. With just a small amount of training, they have been able to put IMPACT:Ability skills into practice in the real world. This program is impactful, both to individuals with disabilities and to those who love them and want to keep them safe.”

Triangle was established in 1971 by business leaders and families who believe everyone has ability. Triangle started off providing employment opportunities and community homes for people with disabilities, so they could work and live in the community. However, since 2001, Triangle has rapidly expanded and now has ten community homes and hosts a series of programs to help those with disabilities start careers and live safe, independent lives.

In 2015, Triangle was selected from more than 350 applicants during a very competitive review process as one of 100 local nonprofits to receive grants through Cummings Foundation’s annual $100K for 100 program. Grant recipients that year represented a wide variety of causes, including mental health, STEM education, veteran’s services, healthcare, hunger relief and homelessness prevention.

Through this place-based initiative, Cummings Foundation has awarded more than $140 million in grants to nonprofits based in Greater Boston, providing vital funding to local charities working to improve the lives of community members where its staff and clients live, including many other Somerville organizations.

“The Foundation is incredibly grateful to nonprofits like Triangle that are working diligently for the benefit of local communities,” said Joel Swets, Cummings Foundation’s executive director. “Triangle’s IMPACT:Ability safety classes have a powerful impact on the lives of the people they reach.”



1 Response » to “12 students with disabilities graduate from self-advocacy program at Somerville High School”

  1. Syren Akopov says:

    Made device for reading human thoughts / human mind reading machine / Brain computer interface. In particular, I have created a perfect Speech Generating Device for people with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis / ALS. Assistive technology or Augmentative and alternative communication. About the problem look : Jack Gallant, Tom Mitchell and Marcel Just; John – Dylan Haynes, human mind reading machine. The discovery has not been published. Russia.

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