Bright Spots: ‘See the able, not the label’


Sometimes a job is just a paycheck, but for these men and women, it’s so much more.

Meet Mac Peoples, Rashad Thomas and Emmanuel Pearson.

Through a partnership between United Cerebral Palsy of West Alabama and the Tuscaloosa County Park and Recreation Authority, they’re PARA’s newest employees.

“There are a lot of needs that PARA has that the individuals at UCP are able to fill,” said PARA Communications Director Becky Booker. “With the support of their job coach, this provides an extra level of support for them. It’s a win-win.”

From sweeping to scrubbing to mopping, these guys said this work doubles as good clean fun.

“I like to mop,” Peoples said. “That’s what I do at the house when I’m at home. Yeah, I like to mop.”

UCP Chief Operating Officer Cody Ingram said the partnership is a great opportunity for those in the program to learn valuable skills.

“Our hope is that they’ll learn the skills that they’ll need to be successful in the workforce, but we also want the community to learn to see the abilities in the individuals that we serve, rather than their disabilities,” Ingram said. “Our slogan at UCP is ‘See the able, not the label.’ And that’s what we hope that the community will take from this, is that these individuals have so many abilities, and that’s what we kind of focus on. Especially with cerebral palsy, we focus on their abilities and individualize those abilities to find jobs that they can be successful in.”

Each person working at Sokol Park has similar interests. They love working with their hands, being outdoors and helping people.

“Mr. Mac has all the ability in the world to do anything that his heart desires,” Ingram said. “He’s worked at Northridge Fitness, which was a great opportunity for him and helped him land this job. Emmanuel, this is his first time ever being employed. And to see him grow and develop over the days and weeks has been really, really wonderful.”

A job is defined as a task or piece of work. Working together, UCP and PARA have created an opportunity not only for Mr. Mac, Rashad and Emmanuel to grow, but also for our community to learn we’re all more alike than we are different.

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Categories: Bright Spots, Featured