Setting a goal and reaching it: `I did it!'

November 12, 2003

Richard Lowry, who lives in a group home in Wilde Lake, was one of 10 students with developmental disabilities who received a certificate Oct. 22 for completing a six-week computer class.

"Everybody's excited about that," said Lowry, 52, who is delighted to be able to type with two hands. "I'm starting another class pretty soon."

Meredith Lowman, special education teacher at Howard Community College, where the class was offered; special education teacher Sue Hale; and Patricia Potter, employment specialist at the Arc of Howard County, joined forces to create the 30-hour, hands-on class, which provided instruction in keyboarding and basic Microsoft Word.

When the students were done, they could create a file, save it, open it and change it. They could do headers and footers, and they had learned how to bold, underline, italicize and change font size, Potter said.

"The program would set a [typing] goal. ... When they reached that goal, you'd have thought they had hit the Lotto," she said. "They'd yell out, `I did it, I did it!' ... One young lady does volunteer work at the hospital doing data entry. She has CP [cerebral palsy], so she can only use one hand. She was in there struggling with one hand trying to keep up - and she did."

Peter Colabucci, Angela Bellman, Heather Blakley, Dennis Fincham, Julie Gallagher, Jeff Jones, Amit Kathuria, Lowry, Chris Schoenbrodt and Anita Shastry completed the course and received certificates.

The six-week class, which was modified from a Microsoft instruction book for non-English-speaking computer students, was created in conjunction with Project Income, a three-year grant for teacher training awarded by the state to the Arc of Howard and Anne Arundel counties.

The focus of this year's grant is on enhanced employment - or more meaningful work - and training for the developmentally disabled, Potter said. She hopes to provide her 10 graduates with more training and apprenticeships. Once jobs are found, Potter goes to the work site with them until they can work independently.

"We don't know of anyone else doing this," Potter said. "Typically, they will be working as custodians, or in grocery stores bagging food. ... This should open the door, and we're hoping that employers will see the value and offer apprenticeships so they can continue to learn. Because they can learn."

Lowry, president of the Arc's People Power - a self-advocates' group - and a member of the organization's board of directors, would be happy to discuss the class.

"Oh, I don't mind; I'll be downstairs on my computer," he said.

- Fay Lande

Parents, Tots Play Groups to get started next week

The Town Center Community Association will hold its four-week fall minisession of Parents and Tots Play Groups from 10 a.m. to noon Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, starting next week.

A group for children ages 24 months and older will begin Tuesday; for children 6 months to 2 years on Nov. 19; and for children 6 months to 4 years on Nov. 20.

The play groups meet weekly at Historic Oakland, 5430 Vantage Point Road, Columbia.

The cost is $10 for Columbia residents; $11 for nonresidents.

Information: 410-730-4744.

`Charlie Brown' scheduled at River Hill High School

The River Hill High School drama department will present the Broadway musical You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown for five performances at 7:30 p.m. tomorrow, Friday and Saturday; 2 p.m. Saturday; and 3 p.m. Sunday in the school auditorium.

Tickets are $8 in advance; $10 at the door. Tickets are available in advance from Terri Burks in the school's front office. The box office will open at 6:30 p.m. for evening performances; 1 p.m. for the Saturday matinee; and 2 p.m. for the Sunday matinee.

Births

Macarthur Peters-Jacobsen: To Kevin and Jill Ashman of Hickory Ridge on Oct. 4.

Alyssa Nicole: To Leroy and Natashia Anderson of Wilde Lake on Oct. 16.

Christopher Ryan: To Roger and Ginger Gauert of Hickory Ridge on Oct. 20.

Around town`Artfully Wilde': Slayton House Gallery in Wilde Lake Village Green will present "Artfully Wilde," a one-day sale of contemporary and traditional gifts, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday. Articles made by 30 regional artists and artisans will be for sale. Admission is free. 410-730-3987 or 301-596-4883.

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