|Pamela Newman has been employee at Abilities United
since 1990 and has seen a lot of change and progress.
Pamela Newman is one of the many staff members who has long maintained a deep commitment to the cause of Abilities United. It all started in 1990, when a friend who had extolled the virtues of the agency brought Pamela to the Aquatic Center.
“I came in and saw Aquatics Services, where there were children and teens with physical impairments, as well as adults with therapeutic needs stemming from things like arthritis or stroke,” says Pamela. “It was great to see how people who struggled on land could enjoy such a wonderful freedom of movement in the water. That day, right on the spot, I decided that I wanted to work here, and all these years later I’m still here!”
Pamela has been involved in various roles at Abilities United. Currently she manages the Computer Education program, teaching participants how to use email, Facebook, Microsoft Office, digital art, and computer-based training for skills such as reading and language comprehension. In this role she helps to bridge the digital divide and educate people of all ages in computer, academic, and life skills.
A lot has changed in the 22 years Pamela has been with the agency. “When I first started, the adults I worked with had been excluded from the educational system. It was terrible: even if they had the same cognitive skills as other children, someone might have decided that they didn’t belong in a public school and they were never given a chance,” Pamela says as she sadly shakes her head. “Now though, the schools, and the community in general, are doing a dramatically better job of including people with disabilities and enabling all to reach their potential, which of course aligns with our goals at Abilities United.”
Looking to the future, Pamela hopes to see continued progress on the path of inclusion. “It’s a two-way path. We of course want to enable participants to get out and be part of the community, but we also want to get more people from the community to come and participate here at Abilities United. We currently have excellent services for people with or without disabilities: a great Milestones Preschool, our aquatic services, and our computer education program are a few examples. We also have the potential to expand some of our other current services such as Independent Living Skills – where we help develop life skills and job skills – to anyone in the community who can benefit from these services. We all need to open our arms and our minds and be truly inclusive.”
Based on a 2012 interview with Pamela Newman. Written by Bob Thomas. edited by Pamela Newman and Wendy Kuehnl.