Posted on October 17, 2022
| 8:15 a.m.
October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month. More than a year ago, the Isla Vista Community Service District (IVCSD) partnered with Momentum WORK Inc., a local non-profit organization whose mission is to provide people with disabilities with work opportunities. employment and vocational training.
Thanks to Jake Lowry, the organization’s Individual Employment Services Coordinator, IVCSD hired Sophia Lee-Park, the first community engagement intern and accessibility advocate.
Lee-Park and IVCSD’s Director of Community Engagement, Sydney Casler, have worked to ensure that the community of Isla Vista and surrounding communities have access to resources that enable people with disabilities/disabilities to thrive and to participate fully in community affairs.
Lee-Park’s first-hand experiences of living with a disability and researching accessibility have fueled her commitment to ensuring others like her know they are knowledgeable and valued members of their community. local community and society, and therefore need to be given the opportunity to be leaders themselves.
Lee-Park has compiled a comprehensive list of community resources for residents with disabilities and their families on the IVCSD website. Including transportation services, life skills or independent living support, community wellness, adapted recreation, housing services, emergency preparedness guidelines, and more. The resource compilation can be found here and the searchable Google doc is here.
True to its obligation to ensure that no one is left behind, Lee-Park hopes that employers will enable others in the disability community to continue to be the leaders they deserve. By doing so, board members from other local governments can ensure that the concerns of these people are validated and included in the conversation.
Ultimately, Lee-Park hopes the accessibility advocate or coordinator positions will become permanent and be implemented beyond Isla Vista, to all cities in Santa Barbara County.
Lee-Park continued to develop her understanding of the challenges and benefits of navigating community programs in California and Santa Barbara. During her internship, she aspires to work with and for residents living with disabilities and otherwise marginalized communities to ensure they feel empowered.
Lee-Park strives to provide a clear pathway to acquire these essential support services for themselves, their family or their peers. She believes that all people with disabilities, wherever they are on their disability journey, have the right to be informed and connected to the many organizations in Santa Barbara and Isla Vista that can provide life-changing support. .
“One of the most rewarding aspects of my position is that I can reassure residents with disabilities of all ages that they are valuable and knowledgeable contributors to their community. I like being able to use their knowledge to ensure tangible progress in real time,” said Lee-Park.
“I commend the IVSCD for being the civic leaders in our county in providing valuable and needed information to its residents with disabilities and their families. It is essential that the disability community have easily accessible resource guides available to participate in California’s many life-changing social programs and obtain assistance in entering the workforce or receiving care in comfort. of their home. As Sophia has demonstrated, these programs are truly an investment in the future and have an extremely positive impact on the community as a whole,” Lowry said.
“Working alongside Sophia, I have tremendous gratitude for her efforts to ensure people are educated and have a deeper understanding of dignified community engagement. I will continue to advocate for that other municipalities are inspired by the importance of this work. I am thrilled to see all that Sophia will continue to accomplish,” said Casler.
IVCSD, Isla Vista’s first broad-based local government, is empowered to provide eight key services including public safety, housing mediation, community facilities, parking, graffiti abatement, lighting and sidewalks, as well as a municipal advisory council and a planning commission. The board is made up of five publicly elected trustees and two trustees nominated by UCSB and Santa Barbara County.