Learning is Forever and For All of Us
By Marsalee Malatesta, Chief of Services, Health and Wellness, Reimagine
On the surface, people with disabilities may seem completely different than people without disabilities. But dive deeper, and you’ll find that people with disabilities are just like you and me in many ways. They need to connect, to maintain relationships and to be nurtured physically, mentally and emotionally. And after more than 20 years of working at Reimagine, I’m still learning daily, but here’s what I’m certain of: We need each other to keep developing into our best selves.
That desire to keep learning is a big part of being able to successfully work with people with disabilities. You have to believe in the value of what you’re teaching them, and they have to believe you want to be there for them. You must have an innate passion for the field and empathy to be able to validate people with disabilities and understand their situations. You need to be all in.
The rewards of this work are doled out in life-changing moments. After a nine-year hiatus from full-time work at Reimagine, I returned to the Orange campus as Program Director. A participant I’d worked with back in 1997 came in for her regular therapies and recognized me. She was elated and so was I. She said I had saved her life – the ultimate expression of gratitude.
Just a few weeks ago, one of my staff had a breakthrough with a participant, who in her late forties, used a new app on her tablet to learn to say the “th” sound, after struggling to pronounce it her entire life. She is still learning, and so are we.
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, despite the disruption and lingering uncertainty, we are still making gains. As long as we all stay open to learning, are ready to adapt and stay connected, Reimagine will continue helping participants reach their full potential.
Chief of Services, Marsalee Malatesta oversees day programs and outpatient clinical services for adults with intellectual, developmental and neurological disabilities. Her teams provide social service intervention, nursing intervention plus physical, speech and occupational therapies.