News

Celebrating Abilities

jason and alexJason enjoys spending time with good friend Alex
who also attends UDS Kent.


Be polite. Say “please,” “excuse me,” and “thank you.” Hold the door open for someone behind you. Jason learned early in life that good manners like these are important. His parents also taught him that he was just like everybody else even though he couldn’t see, and he could do the things everybody else does, he just has to do some things differently.

A Perfect Fit
With a phenomenal aptitude for facts and dates, Jason recalls that he started working at UDS Kent on March 28, 2006, just a few days after the program opened its doors on March 20. Born in Anchorage, Alaska, he has lived in 17 different locations across the country, acclimating to different schools, programs and work environments. When he walked through the doors here, he remembers being greeted warmly and feeling welcomed by everyone. He says, “I knew this was it.” Mom, Cathy, was with him and says, “UDS has been a godsend. We were in the right place at the right time when we found this place.”

The Up Side
Jason has an upbeat, positive spirit and says, “I try to always look on the bright side of things. Mom and Dad raised me right, to be respectful, mannerly and polite.” All of those traits, combined with a pleasant demeanor, make him the natural choice to cover for the receptionist when she goes to lunch or happens to be off for a day. He enjoys answering the phone, greeting people and assisting them when they enter the building. Preferring to work, he spends four days a week working on a variety of jobs including packaging Kong dog toys, heat sealing, and cotton swabs on the Vocational side and one day a week is spent on the SociAbilities side doing recreational, social and community activities.

Community Inclusion
In addition to raising Jason and his brother (both with Leber congenital amaurosis, a rare, genetic eye disorder that also causes kidney failure), Mom was also a special education teacher during a time when children with disabilities were separated from the rest of the students. She is grateful there is more knowledge and acceptance of people with differences in schools now. To those who might be afraid of people with disabilities, she encourages “Give them a chance. Welcome them into your heart. It can make such a big difference.” Jason is grateful for all the friends he has made at UDS Kent and for his girlfriend, Tammie, who he met several years ago. They talk on the phone every evening, get together once or twice a month and have an annual tradition of going to the Portage County Randolph Fair. He also enjoys reading and would like to write his own book someday, sharing some of his experiences.

This year UDS is celebrating 70 years of serving people of all abilities and DD Awareness Month is the perfect time to embrace differences and share the stories of people like Jason who make this world a better place. Visit udstv.org to watch a short video of him sharing his story. If you’d like more information about UDS Kent Adult Services contact Erica Taylor at 330-676-1493 or via email at etaylor@udsakron.org.

For information about any other program or service call 330-762-9755 or contact us today.