DO-IT Does the President's Summit

Zachary, DO-IT Scholar

One of the responsibilities placed upon every DO-IT Scholar is that they must disseminate information concerning the DO-IT program to individuals who may be a beneficiary and/or a benefactor to the program. Scholars have fulfilled this requirement by: addressing a School Board, communicating with colleagues, writing articles for various publications, corresponding with individuals by means of electronic mail, and myriad other methods. One method DO-IT employs to propagate itself is attendance at conferences around the country by DO-IT staff and/or emissaries. One special conference DO-IT attended this year was the Presidents' Summit in Philadelphia.

On April 27, 1997, the Summit opened with delegates assisting in the clean-up of a neighborhood in Philadelphia. This conference, with the central theme of community service, gave DO-IT a fortuitous opportunity to publicize its efforts to serve individuals with disabilities. Winning the NII award in 1995, DO-IT was invited to host a display which showcased program efforts. Staff members Julie Smallman, Darin Stageberg, and Sheryl Burgstahler served as spokespersons for the DO-IT program, speaking with the delegates who visited the DO-IT booth. However, the DO-IT staff felt that it would be beneficial to have a DO-IT Scholar attend the Summit so that he/she could share his/her experience with the delegates. Serendipity would have it that I, living in Pennsylvania, would have the opportunity to share my experience in the DO-IT program with the delegates in Philadelphia. I became a DO-IT Scholar in 1996 and I am blind.

I have been asked to recount DO-IT's experience at the Summit, and I shall present some of the highlights. The days' activities consisted primarily of speaking with delegates who stopped to learn about DO-IT. (Delegates came from many states, if not all the states, and, were officials of differing degree.)

The evening activities for the first day included a taste of Philadelphia and an awards ceremony. The taste of Philadelphia was an event in which the participants had the opportunity to sample cuisine from various restaurants.

The award ceremony was a recognition of outstanding individuals or organizations who have contributed valuable community service. For example, a fifteen year old was recognized by President Clinton for her service to the homeless, providing bagged lunches and treating the homeless like family. Amazingly, she knew each of their names and birthdates. Apparently she likes to surprise these individuals with small gifts on their birthdays. The second day's events consisted of managing the booth and attending a dinner to share information with others about the program. Overall, the atmosphere, the events, and the many acquaintances made this experience a very special and memorable one.