I have known for quite some time that I want to end up working at an agency that helps marginalized groups of people. I didn’t know I wanted to work with people with disabilities specifically until I spent my January at Southside Services. At first, I was very nervous about what the next few weeks had in store for me. I was worried that I wasn’t going to enjoy my time at Southside and I would have to either quickly find a new agency or spend my January at home. However, my fears did not last for long. After my first week at Southside, I already could see myself working there for the rest of my life.
During my time at Southside, I was introduced to so many different things. I am someone who thrives on change, so I easily adapted to my new surroundings and the many people I met. The staff at Southside welcomed me with open arms and lots of answers to the many questions I had. Southside does not have many staff members so it was easy for me to become very close to everyone. I not only became better acquainted with the Southside staff, but I also got to know many of the Southside clients. Annually, Southside works with about 200 clients with disabilities. Southside provides three programs for their clients. The first one is community connections. These services include transportation, assistance in applying for housing, connections to food support programs, and many more. The second program provided is therapeutic recreational services. Each month, a calendar is sent out to all of the clients with specific events offered each day. Clients have options like playing basketball, attending dances, and going out to eat. This program promotes integration and helps clients develop social skills. The last program provided by Southside is SOAR, which stands for support, one-on-one, awareness recreation. This program is specifically meant for people with disabilities who are struggling with adjusting to life after they have completed high school. Southside works with high schools in Hennepin County to make this program attainable for students.
The most important thing I learned after spending my January term at Southside was the power of privilege. People with disabilities are constantly forgotten and heavily neglected in our society. It is so important to recognize people with disabilities as people first. People with disabilities are individuals who are capable of doing really great things. Humans come in a variety of abilities. It is time to look at the differences people provide as beautiful. It is time to leave room for people who have disabilities so that they can be active and contributing members of society. It is time to use your privilege to help the underprivileged. It is ALWAYS time to remember that disability rights are human rights.