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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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Photo of Rose Ostrander Participants: Rose Ostrander

Program: Self Advocacy / AmeriCorps, New York
Service: Gives presentations on disability topics to teach the importance of self-advocacy to persons with disabilities and the importance of full community inclusion and participation of persons with disabilities.

Interview with Rose Ostrander, January, 2001



1. INTRODUCTION:              real audio clip icon

ROSE: My name is Rose Ostrander. I live in New York. I live with Jody Porter and I like living with her. It’s a very nice family. She has a daughter, she is a teacher. I went to the school to speak to the kids and I enjoyed going there and they asked questions. And they really listened to my story. I told them about the [state institution] in New York and how I was there since I was a little girl. I didn’t go to school like you guys did. And I explained everything to them. They really listened to me but they did ask questions after.

EMILY: How long have you been in AmeriCorps?

ROSE: This is my second year

EMILY: Why did you join?

ROSE: To help to speak to the kids to understand that they can get along with the handicapped people…to speak up for my rights and tell them where I came from. It took me a long time to talk about it cause it was really hard to say some of the things that happened to me…I had a friend, she said, “you should go out and talk to people because kids don’t understand what we came from and we get criticized a lot.” … so I decided it was time to wake up and smell the coffee.

2. SERVICE:              real audio clip icon

ROSE: And after I got done taking to the kids at the school they wrote me a letter and they said, “ thank you very much, Rose, for coming to the school , because it turned my life around understanding handicapped people is not handicapped.

EMILY: Do you feel like a lot of people don’t understand the experiences of people with disabilities?

ROSE: Yes. Yeah. And when I stop talking I ask questions.

EMILY: What do you ask?

ROSE: I ask them what you think handicapped people means to them. And they tell me they have a sister or a brother at home handicapped; they point it out to us. I say how do you feel living with a handicapped person? [It’s] just like a normal person to live in the house. And I tell them just the way it is: I have don’t have no handicap. I do have a handicap because I don’t know how to read but I’m learning how to read.

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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.