“It was challenging trying to play cards with someone who couldn’t move or talk,” said Cepeda. “One client looked to the side to answer ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to questions. It was hard sometimes to decipher what he wanted. Simple activities weren’t always simple.”
The five-day service trip to the center, where a poster in the entrance reminds people to “Presume Competence,” was filled with challenge. Placed with the physical education teacher, Beth Brouard struggled from the beginning to figure out how to be most helpful in a gym class. Some clients played Wiffle Ball. Others ran an obstacle course, bowled or picked up hand weights—a major feat for some.
“It’s opened my eyes. I learned a lot about my own assumptions about disability,” said Brouard, a sophomore international studies major from Richmond, Vt. “You have to dig deep and not assume what someone can or can’t understand. It’s hard to tell when you first meet someone.” continue