This week, September 11-16, 2016, is recognized as National Direct Support Professionals (DSP) Week. Each year since 2008, the United States has proclaimed a week in September to raise public awareness of the role that many DSPs play in our communities. Most Americans are unaware of the number of people with disabilities who receive support in order to live, work, and play within our communities.

Our support staff works with people every day, often around the clock, to enhance opportunities for individuals to take part in everyday life in the community. Our DSPs are devoted to their work and to the people they support. They are professional and highly competent in ways that require them to make independent decisions that can affect the health and safety of other people. They are creative and find solutions to satisfy people’s interests as well as meet their needs. DSPs must have a variety of expertise and be willing to learn new ways to accomplish tasks.

Well-trained, motivated, and experienced DSPs are able to support people with disabilities–yound and old–to fulfill their dreams and interests while creating trustworthy, stable and compatible relationships. At JEVS Human Services, we honor our DSPs who have made long-term commitments to support individuals to increase independence, to experience new things, to maintain wellness, and to participate in their communities.

We collect memories over the years in pictures and stories. And we have some really terrific stories to tell! One of my favorite stories is of a very energetic support staff member who wanted one of our ladies [participants] to be able to go to the YMCA and exercise. The individual was blind, but very capable of walking, and she loved music. The support staffer helped her get on the treadmill and put on headphones. Then he got onto the treadmill behind her and began walking slowly. He increased the speed as she was able to keep up or decreased the speed as needed. They had a terrific time at the gym and it soon became one of her favorite activities. What a creative way to help someone experience exercise in a new way!

To honor our DSPs at JEVS this year, we are planning a huge picnic with organized games, prizes and raffles. It will be a great time to let our DSPs know how much we truly appreciate all of the efforts and energies they bring to the job every day. Job well done!

— Clara Thompson, Senior Executive Director of Supports for Living at JEVS

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