Honoring achievement

Disabled residents given awards for their accomplishments

October 06, 2006|By Tyrone Richardson | Tyrone Richardson,sun reporter

Joey Kasura has a fondness for firefighting - and for computer technology. The 17-year-old wasn't about to let a severe learning disability or attention deficit disorder prevent him from combining those two interests, working with the Laurel Fire Department in creating a training video for probationary firefighters to explain the use of fire hoses during a blaze.

"I was relieved when it was done and excited when everybody at the firehouse really liked it," said Kasura, a Howard Community College student who was honored yesterday with a Youth Award at the 12th Howard County Commission on Disabilities Awards breakfast.

The ceremony, at Ten Oaks Ballroom in Clarksville, celebrates residents with disabilities, advocates for the disabled and employers.

Among those honored were Debbie Meyer a professional dancer and HCC dance instructor who has used a wheelchair since her spine was fractured in an auto accident.

"I was redefined with my accident," said Meyer, who received an individual achievement award. "All of a sudden, I no longer have access to my legs. ... So after having to deal with losing that and going through a grieving process, I got back into it again."

Meyer teaches tap dancing and choreography at HCC and has found a way to do that despite using a wheelchair.

"With tap dancing classes, I found a way to use my hands and give verbal cues," Meyer said. "Other classes need a full-body demonstration, and it's about the students, not me, so I don't teach the students who need that."

Kasura, diagnosed during his freshman year of high school with an attention disorder and with dysgraphia, which impairs his ability to write, said the learning disabilities did not stop him from accomplishing his goals.

He graduated a year early from Glenelg High School and is enrolled in HCC's James W. Rouse Scholars Program, which offers academic and leadership activities for high-performing students.

The Glenwood resident said he plans to get a college degree in film. Kasura said he spends countless hours each night poring through videos and pictures to make multimedia presentations.

"You spend eight nights of work for 15 minutes of video - gotta love the ratio," he said.

Also honored at yesterday's event were:

James N. Robey, who received the Ralph Mulloy Advocacy Award for his efforts as county executive to make county buildings accessible to all. Noted were renovations to the Banneker Room in the George Howard Building to make the room accessible to those who use wheelchairs.

Robert Marietta of Howard Community College, who was named Provider of The Year for ensuring that people with disabilities have access to the college

The Giant supermarket at Owen Brown Village Center, which received the Service Accessibility Award for its willingness to assist disabled customers, including providing motorized scooters and having employees on hand to help unload carts at the checkout line.

Pizza Hut, on Minstrel Way in Columbia's Kings Contrivance village, named Employer of the Year Award for hiring workers who are disabled.

Howard Transit, presented with the Physical Accessibility Award for its purchase of low-floor buses and for its program to improve pedestrian access at transit stops.

tyrone.richardson@baltsun.com

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