Using the phrase “differently abled,” the Transformative Educational Development Services, or, TEDServices, has been looking to shift the focus on the strengths of people with disabilities — instead of their weaknesses.
To help those efforts along, TEDServices is getting set to host its Annual AAble Awards at Bellport Country Club this Saturday from 12 – 4 p.m.
This is the nonprofit’s fifth year hosting the event. A five-course meal and a silent auction will be open to the public. Tickets to the event are being sold at $85 per person. (Email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 631-817-2006.)
“TEDS is an organization that we started about five years ago. We started it with a mission to focus on the differently abled community, especially those transitioning over from high school to college,” said Michelle Fowler, a college professor and the vice president of TED Services in Coram.
They are calling the event their one-and-only flagship fundraiser, where they will be honoring advocates of the disabled community and local high school students that have disabilities.
Click here for a list of this year’s honorees.
“We started partnering up with a few high schools like Longwood, Riverhead, and William Floyd,” Dr. Fowler said. “We asked the schools to nominate different students and advocates in their communities, and we have a committee that decides whose accomplished some great things that are worth honoring.”
A veteran guardian award will also be given out during the award ceremony, to honor veteran advocates.
Dr. Fowler and the group’s chief executive officer, Marcial Gallimore, noticed that few people were working with these students through a transitioning process from high school to college or the workforce, which could be especially difficult for them.
So they stepped in to help.
To make the transition easier, Dr. Fowler says, “we are using technology to bridge the gap and help make things accessible for them in the classroom. We also work with them in advocacy for equal access to everything, including transportation,” Dr. Fowler said.
She said the goal of the organization is to provide education and independence, to ensure local students become working individuals, just like anyone else.
TEDServices exists to teach students how to cognitively and adaptively take care of themselves, without having to depend on the help of others, according to Dr. Fowler.
“We are like a family,” she said.
The first year, TEDServices’ AAble Awards attracted 136 people. They’ve sold out every year since then. More than anything, the feel-good event is designed to bring an awareness of differently abled persons — and their accomplishments.
“We are here, we are capable, we can be educated, we can compete, we can be a part of the community, and we can be happy and fulfilled,” Dr. Fowler said proudly.