Center offers services for community members with disabilities

There are no disabled people – only people with disabilities. From designing large silverware that is easier to grasp to replacing a broken parts on a wheelchair, the

<a href=”http://www.cpdusu.org/”>Center for Persons with Disabilities</a>

(CPD) is constantly working to make the lives of community members a little easier. Gordon Richins, consumer liaison for the CPD, was 32 years old and loading hay into the back of a pickup truck when a bale of hay fell and hit him in the back of his head. The former dairy farmer has been paralyzed since. “In the blink of an eye, I went from a self-employed farmer to an individual with a significant disability,” Richins said. “But life’s good. You know, you get out of life what you make it.” Richins, who lives in Preston, Idaho, uses community services to help him in his home and public transportation to get to work and around town. “We’re all people, with things to do and places to go, and the work CPD does is exciting, rewarding and beneficial to the community as a whole,” he said. This year the center is celebrating its 40th year of operation. The center is located on Utah State University’s campus. This federally-mandated program is part of a network of 67 other centers across the country. Jeff Sheen, project director at the CPD, said, “Here on campus, we bring in the second most contract and grant money as anyone on campus, other than the Space Dynamics Laboratory. We kind of have to toot that horn because it’s important for people to know this is a big thing.” Though more than 250 individuals work for the CPD, employees are not the only ones reaping the benefits from the center’s 70 plus programs and projects. The biggest beneficiaries are members of the public who utilize the center’s research, education, demonstration services and assistive technology developments. The center has services ranging from biomedical and educational to diagnostics and family support. While the CPD is located in Logan, its services and technology can be used throughout the state. CPD coordinators encourage Utahns needing services to contact the center. For those who cannot make it to Logan, the CPD has partnerships with other businesses and medical practices and will work out the logistics so residents can get the help they need. USU students also benefit from the center being on campus. Many carry out undergraduate or graduate research projects from engineering to education. These students get the benefit of receiving an education while being able to have a hands-on, real world experience that will improve lives. One of the center’s aims is to create technologies for persons with disabilities that are affordable. Some assistive technology can be expensive, and many of those who would benefit from these products can’t afford them. One product the center makes is a play station for kids with learning and developmental disabilities. Specific play activities can help with a child’s mental or physical development, but play stations can cost up to thousands of dollars. At the center, engineers with knowledge of these disabilities use inexpensive materials – from scraps of plywood to household objects – to create affordable alternatives. Another service at the CPD,

<a href=”http://www.cpdusu.org/featuredstories/create/”>Citizens Reutilizing Assistive Technology Equipment (CreATE)</a>

, refurbishes donated mobility devices, like motorized scooters, so that residents can purchase them at a low cost. The center has services and technologies for people of all ages and abilities, from autism to arthritis. “If you live long enough, you’re going to acquire one or more aging disabilities,” Richins said. The Up to 3 Early Intervention program, with services for kids from newborn to age 3, is one of the center’s most important, Sheen said. “They provide all kinds of services – physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech language pathology, a lot of things – to get young kids with developmental disabilities or delays kind of prepared for school,” he said. There are many products and services the center provides to the community, and anyone who is curious can go to the center’s website or

<a href=”http://www.cpdusu.org/about/#how_to_reach_us”>contact center personnel</a>

for more information. Often, persons with disabilities have very specific needs and a specific tool that could improve their life does not yet exist. Coordinator Clay Christensen of the Utah Assistive Technology Program said the lab will try to make just about any technology at least once, but often the engineers don’t know of a community member’s need unless that person comes and talks to them about it. He encourages input from anyone who sees a need and wants help filling it. Throughout the year the CPD will be hosting events to celebrate their 40 years of operation. Sheen hopes to have an event at least every other month. “The idea behind our 40th celebration is really letting people in the community know what great things have happened here over the last 40 years and what we’re hoping to do in the future,” Sheen said. On March 22, the CPD is showing

<a href=”http://www.cpdusu.org/calendar/March2012/movieshowing1/”>“Body and Soul: Diana and Kathy,”</a>

at the Edith Bowen Laboratory School Auditorium on the USU campus. Events will be listed on the CPD’s

<a href=”http://www.cpdusu.org/calendar/”>events calendar</a>

. Volunteer and donation opportunities can be found

<a href=”http://www.cpdusu.org/help/”>online.</a>

– rachel@cvdaily.com

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