Tag Archives: people with disabilities

Roundup: Depression, Dumb Driving, Club 203 …

“Is My Teen Just Moody? An Overview on Adolescent Depression” is the depressing — but very important — title of a Westport Public Schools’ workshop.

Set for November 3 (7 p.m., Bedford Middle School auditorium), it offers parents ideas for distinguishing “normal” teenage mood swings from symptoms of something more serious.

The event explores signs and symptoms of clinical depression, and offers treatment options.

Presenter Elizabeth Cotter of Effective School Solutions ha over 20 years’ experience as a therapist, program director and in clinical leadership roles.

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Traffic was normal — that is to say, busy — yesterday at noon.

Pat Prenderville was 5th in line on Imperial Avenue, waiting for the Post Road/Myrtle Avenue light.

Suddenly, the driver of a white Audi pulled in front of all the cars waiting in Pat’s line, and zoomed to the front.

In the left lane.

And proceeded to wait there — now first in line — until the light changed.

The very entitled white Audi. (Photo/Pat Prenderville)

The Very Very Very Important Driver then headed straight across, onto Myrtle.

“It’s amazing they weren’t hit by cars turning onto Imperial,” Pat says.

It’s also amazing that I’m not amazed anymore to hear — and see — stunts like this one.

PS: It was lunchtime, so this was not a teenage driver.

And you wonder why kids drive like they do.

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Club 203 — Westport’s new social group for adults with disabilities — had its second event this week.

Once again, it was a smashing success.

Attendees, their guests and volunteers came dressed for Halloween. Trunks were decorated, and filled with treats, Scary movie clips played on the Remarkable Theater screen, and there was dancing and games for all.

As they did at their first outing, Club 203 members greeted old friends, met new ones, and had a blast..

Next up: Gaming and Pizza Night (November 19, Toquet Hall). For more information, click here.

Club 203 members Jamie Taylor and Andreas Wagner enjoy the Halloween party.

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With nearly 300 members, Staples’ Service League of Boys is the high school’s largest club.

They spend most meetings planning events. But this week they Jay Paretzky of Westport Volunteer Emergency Medical Services led hands-on CPR and AED instruction for the teenagers — and their parents.

Other meetings are “working” sessions. For example, SLOBs will pack and deliver hundreds of snack bags for Bridgeport schoolchildren.

SLOBs has a great reputation, at Staples and throughout the community. It’s not hard to see why.

SLOBs’ CPR training.

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Speaking of Staples: Jo Shields was impressed to find this message chalked on the high school sidewalk the other day, next to the main entrance:

(Photo/Jo Shields)

It says “Asking for help is not a sign of weakness. It’s a sign of bravery.”

Similar messages could be seen on sidewalks all around the school. They’re part of the Guidance Department’s ongoing efforts to raise awareness of the importance of mental health.

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MoCA Westport’s first-ever Open Mic last night sounds great!

Sixteen performers — as young as 14, and as old as 87 — shared poems and music with the community. Westport poet laureate Jessica McEntee also participated. Performers ranged in age from young as 14 to as old as 87.

Click here for the full program.

Vivian Shamie performs at last night’s “MoCA Some Noise” open mic event. (Photo/Cynthia Dempster)

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Today’s “Westport … Naturally” photo comes courtesy of Susan Leone. It was taken from the Riverwalk, behind the Library.

Once again, she — and her friend — remind us how fortunate we are to live here.

(Photo/Susan Leone)

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And finally … on this day in 1879,  Thomas Edison applied for a patent for his incandescent light bulb.

“06880” Podcast: Stacie Curran & Sharuna Mahesh

Westport is many things to many people. For those with disabilities — physical or intellectual — it’s a place with possibilities and opportunities.

And challenges.

Stacie Curran and Sharuna Mahesh have been active in the local disabilities community — and the larger Westport community — for years. They are strong advocates for the educational, recreational and social needs of people of all ages.

The other day at the Westport Library, we talked about their work, and our town. What do we do well here, for people with mobility or cognitive differences? What needs work? What are the resources? What else is needed? What are the success stories, and what are the misconceptions and myths?

Click below for our conversation. It’s insightful, fascinating — and very important.

(“06880” covers all aspects of local life. Please click here to help us continue our work.)

Movie Theater Downtown: It’s Remarkable!

The Westport Public Schools do a wonderful job providing opportunities to students with disabilities.

But at age 21, they age out. Meanwhile, the state has cut funding for day programs for adults with disabilities.

A group of parents has a goal: increase employment for area men and women with physical and intellectual disabilities.

The result: a remarkable idea.

The parents were inspired by the Prospector Theater in Ridgefield. It shows first-run films; 65% of employees are people with disabilities.

Meanwhile, a different group of Westporters worked for years, trying to open a theater downtown. They had a name — Westport Cinema Initiative — but no building and little funding.

Stacie Curran and Marina Derman — longtime Westporters with sons with disabilities — met with Doug Tirola. As a Staples High School graduate, current resident and president of documentary producer 4th Row Films, he was perfectly positioned to help.

The 2 groups merged. Now they’re poised to bring a theater to Westport. It will train and employ people with disabilities.

And — in a brilliant homage to Westport’s history and arts heritage — it will be called the Remarkable Theater.

The name — as Tirola, Curran, Derman and thousands of others know — honors the Remarkable Book Shop. That’s the longtime, beloved and still-mourned store at the corner of Main Street and Parker Harding Plaza (now the still-closed Talbots).

Curran came up with the brilliant name. Mark Kramer and Wendy Kramer Posner — whose mother Esther owned the shop — are “thrilled, honored and completely supportive,” says Derman.

“It’s a reminder of a time when downtown was homey, friendly, warm and fun,” Curran adds. “And people with disabilities are remarkable.”

Remarkably too, today is National Arthouse Theater Day. That’s exactly the type of theater the Remarkable will be.

Tirola calls it a “state-of-the-art, independent arthouse theater.” It will show independent and older films. Think of New York’s Film Forum, he says.

You’ll still go to a multiplex for the latest “Star Wars” sequel. But the Remarkable will be the place to go for many intriguing films. On Veterans Day, for example, it might screen a series of historical movies. If a famous director dies, it’s flexible enough to quickly mount a tribute.

Among the Westporters working on the Remarkable Theater project: Front (from left): Joanna Borner, Marina Derman, Deirdre Teed, Stacie Curran. Rear: Doug Tirola, Kristin Ehrlich, Angie Wormser, State Representative Jonathan Steinberg, Diane Johnson.

The theater will be a venue for talkbacks too. Other groups — particularly schools — will be invited to use the space.

Tirola, Curran, Derman and others have already secured a $50,000 grant from the state Department of Developmental Services. Funds will pay for equipment and movie screenings.

Pop-up screenings could begin before the theater opens. Organizers hope to break ground 2 years from now.

As for where it will be: They’d love a downtown site. They’ve begun talking with landlords, looking for options.

After several years, there’s real movement for a movie theater in Westport. The curtain is rising on this remarkable story.

(For more information — or to help — click here, or email marina@remarkabletheater.org).

Westport Mulls Commission On Disabilities

Yesterday (Sunday, July 26) marked the 25 anniversary of the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

You may have missed it. If you’re non-disabled, you probably never think of it. If you have a disability, you may have been out on a glorious Westport day. Perhaps you were at the beach or Longshore, or enjoyed a night at the Levitt — all easily accessible for everyone.

As a town, Westport has enabled access, supported transportation and provided programs and services that promote inclusion for people with disabilities.

When the beach wheelchair was delivered 10 years ago, then-Parks & Rec director Stuart McCarthy gave Rotary president Irwin Lebish a ride.

When a new beach wheelchair was delivered 3 years ago, then-Parks & Rec director Stuart McCarthy gave Rotary president Irwin Lebish a ride.

Now, the town hopes to do more.

First Selectman Jim Marpe, and a steering committee headed by Barbara Butler (director of Westport Human Services) and Jim Ross (chair of the Westport Citizens Transit Committee) are considering a proposal to create a permanent Westport Commission on People with Disabilities.

The group would serve as a resource for people with disabilities and their families, as well as offer guidance to town officials on the development of programs and policies enabling residents to participate fully in community life.

The steering committee has created a short survey, seeking feedback on the initiative. They ask all “06880” readers to click here to participate.