Update on the Sibling Mini Course at Temple University

Note: From the Temple Institute on Disabilities website… Photo, Presentation, and link soon to be added.. Thanks to Celia Feinstein and Temple for the opportunity to present sibling perspectives. Thanks also go to sister Mary Bisignaro and niece Camille Bisignaro for coming to represent the family.

April 2011

Philadelphia, PA—The Institute on Disabilities at Temple University hosted its Mini Course/Lecture Series event—”Siblings: Moving Beyond the Parent/Child Relationship”—on Monday, March 28 featuring speakers Kathryn Fialkowski and her brother David presenting to a standing-room-only audience of more than 110. A Philadelphia native, Kathryn, and her family, has led grassroots activism for the right to education, community living, and employment for individuals with developmental disabilities. She is currently a Joseph P. Kennedy Jr. Public Policy Fellow placed at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Administration on Developmental Disabilities in Washington, DC, working on grassroots strategic planning and self-advocacy organization.

A highlight of the day was the presentation of the First Annual Fialkowski Disability Studies Award to two Temple University graduate students.

In the morning, Kathryn and David shared their emotional journey, moving from a “typical” sibling relationship to one where Kathryn became the caregiver. During this frank and sensitive discussion, Kathryn offered insight about transition from parent-led support to sibling-led support and navigating that process.

In the afternoon, a select panel of siblings of people with intellectual disabilities discussed their experience into their role as a sibling and that of a caretaker.

During the event, the Fialkowski Disability Studies Award was presented to two Temple University Graduate students for “work exemplifying the mission and vision of the Institute on Disabilities at Temple University and for demonstrated excellence in the areas of community inclusion, integration and disability rights.” The Award is given by the Fialkowski family “to assist young leaders in furthering their growth and commitment to the field of disability—personally, academically or professionally.”

Recipients of the first annual award were Lindsey Martin and Christopher Wickman. Lindsey Martin, who will receive a Master of Fine Arts from Temple University’s Master of Arts in Film and Media Arts program in May 2011, has been a graduate extern at the Institute for several semesters. She has worked with a number of project managers at the Institute and in doing so, has learned a cross section of the disability field, from criminal justice to leadership development to inclusive education. As a final project in her Disability Studies class, Lindsey co-produced Every Speed, an experimental short documentary that explores ideas about body movement, technology, and dependency. The film has been screened at the Society for Disability Studies Conference in June of 2010 and at the Association of University Centers on Disabilities Conference in October of 2010. The film was also a recipient of Temple University’s Distribution Completion Grant.
Christopher Wickman will receive a degree from Temple University Beasley School of Law in May 2011 and has been an advocate for people with disabilities during most of his secondary education, beginning with his time serving on Executive Board for the Council for Students with Disabilities. During his tenure as Graduate Extern at the Institute, Chris worked with the Policy/Law assistant director to help research the impact on people with disabilities of proposed policy changes in areas such as health care, education, waiver and other topics. During the fall 2010 semester, Christopher hosted “Embracing the D: The DisAbility Civil Rights Movement and Crip Culture,” which presented a history of the disability civil rights movement, the current disability culture, and current social and legal issues important to people with disabilities.

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