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National Service and Inclusion Project

Inclusion: The active engagement of people with disabilities as service members in all levels of national and community service
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UMass ICI

Photo of Kira Fisher

Participants: Kira Fisher

Program: Action for Children Today (ACT) AmeriCorps, Chapel Hill, NC
Service: Members assist in childcare facilities providing programmatic support and time release to teachers. Part of an initiative to improve early education by providing release time for teachers on the T.E.A.C.H. Early Childhood Associate and Bachelor Degree Program.
Contact: Kirafisher@aol.com


Interview with Kira Fisher, June, 2001

TOPICS:

  1. INTRODUCTION
  2. REASONABLE ACCOMMODATIONS
  3. ADVICE TO PROGRAMS

1. INTRODUCTION

EMILY MILLER: What did you contribute by serving?

KIRA FISHER: I served in a childcare center in Chapel Hill with children ages 0-4 years old. My service included teaching literacy, team-building exercises and pre-kindergarten skills. I served in an inclusive classroom in which one third of the children had disabilities.
I made a big difference with the children. One of the student’s mother came to me and said that I was a wonderful role model for her daughter who had Cerebral Palsy.

EMILY MILLER: Were you in an inclusive classroom as a child?

KIRA FISHER: There was one other child with disabilities in school with me. My parents fought to keep me out of remedial classrooms.

EMILY MILLER: When you were in school, did any of your teachers have disabilities?

KIRA FISHER: No.

EMILY MILLER: What did you gain from serving?

KIRA FISHER: What I gave came back tenfold. I learned how to relate to people with different backgrounds and that everyone learns at there own pace. I was able to be a role model for everyone at the center. I was finally able to give back some of the love and nurturing that I got as a child. I gained insight into how and what I want to pursue in graduate school. I will use my educational award to pursue a masters in Early Intervention Education working to include children in all kinds of classrooms regardless of where they come from or what level they are at. Two of the children that I worked with also have Cerebral Palsy. I was able to help them with daily living skills and this helped me grow as a person. I was able to teach them and show them what they needed to learn and what they could achieve.

EMILY MILLER: You will soon begin a second year of service. Do you have new goals for the coming year of service?

KIRA FISHER: I want to be more professional in developing projects for the children and to gear the projects more to individualized situations.

2. REASONABLE ACCOMMODATIONS

EMILY MILLER: Did you request any reasonable accommodation?

KIRA FISHER: The most important accommodation was being able to ask for help when I needed it. There was always someone to help me.

EMILY MILLER: With what kinds of things did you need help?

KIRA FISHER: We prepared monthly posters to put up on a board which I couldn’t reach. Someone would help me put things up on the board.

My site director was very helpful and supportive. She adjusted my service schedule so that I could make my paratransit ride. I came in early and left early. Also, I didn’t tend to the physical needs of the very young kids.

3. ADVICE TO PROGRAMS

EMILY MILLER: What advice would you give programs to help them increase the participation of people with disabilities?

KIRA FISHER: The only advice I would give is to listen to the person who is serving. He or she is the only person who is going to know what their needs are—make sure to listen to the person. My supervisor listens to me and has shown me respect. Also, don’t give up on the person. Be patient.

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©The National Service Inclusion Project (NSIP) is a training and technical assistance provider on disability inclusion. NSIP partners with the Association on University Centers on Disability, National Council on Independent Living, Association on Higher Education and Disability and National Down Syndrome Congress to build connections between disability organizations and all CNCS grantees, including national directs, to increase the participation of people with disabilities in national service.