New York State Is Closing CWI's Doors, And It's A BIG Mistake

New York State Is Closing CWI's Doors, And It's A BIG Mistake

As someone with a disabled sibling, I cannot agree with this action
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I am the younger sister of two older brothers. I get many people asking how I survived my childhood being pushed around by the boys of the family. Those same people have to hide their shock and embarrassment after I tell them I was the one to initiate most of the pushing around, and any sibling rivalry there may have been was exclusively between one of my brothers and me. I never fought with our oldest brother, Lewis, because he is the gentlest soul you could ever meet.

Lewis is also blind and developmentally disabled.

Growing up I did not question Lewis’s disability because it was all I had ever known and I constantly saw just how independent he could be. Of course, life was not easy for him or my parents, but the positives always outweighed the obstacles because Lewis is the most optimistic human being I have ever been around. I truly admire him and the things he is capable of doing, despite the odds that were stacked against him from birth.

So, I guess technically, Lewis is the youngest sibling and I am just as protective of him as any older sibling would be.

When you get to know Lewis you find out a few key details about him, such as, his undying love for tea and coffee beverages (he will tell you all about his favorite flavors), he gets visibly upset if his routine is disrupted and he loves going to work every day (especially the bus ride to and from work).

Lewis is part of the CWI (Community Work Independence) program in New York State. This program allows my brother and thousands of other disabled adults to become part of the community by working a regular schedule, completing a variety of tasks. The members of CWI do get paid an hourly wage for their work, but it is not anywhere near minimum wage.

That doesn’t matter to Lewis, though, because he just enjoys the social aspect that CWI offers, along with a consistent routine that rarely is interrupted. Every day, for at least 15 years, he performs his usual tasks to get ready for work and rides the bus with his friends. Without CWI, I am not sure he would be as independent as he is now.

According to their website, “Today CWI assists 1,200 individuals at nearly 40 locations across four counties. In addition, the not-for-profit organization has grown to become one of the largest employers in the area with over 700 employees and an annual operating budget of nearly $30 million resulting in a substantial impact on the region’s economy.”

However, according to the state of New York, CWI and programs like it actually are not beneficial to the community they serve, which is resulting in all CWI locations closing their doors in March.

The reasoning: CWI encourages discrimination against disabled individuals and hinders their ability to gain employment for a fair wage.

Whereas I agree that receiving at least minimum wage for time spent in the workforce, I cannot agree with the reasoning. Like I have mentioned, I have seen Lewis’s capabilities to live on his own, but I also am realistic. My brother simply cannot perform tasks that the regular working world expects.

Grocery stores and other businesses tend to hire those with disabilities to greet customers, take care of shopping carts in the parking lot or bag items at the register. This allows disabled individuals to learn the skills to be social and successful, and get rewarded for their work with a fair wage.

Except, Lewis couldn’t bag items at the grocery store, because he cannot see what the products are. He cannot walk into a busy parking lot on his own to round up shopping carts and put them back in their correct place. Lewis would certainly love to greet customers at the store entrance, but I think that busy times would stress him out too much with all of the unpredictable noise that accompanies shoppers.

Along with the state’s reason for shutting down CWI, I would have to argue that if a day program that offers a separate place for employment for the benefit of its employees, then wouldn’t handicap parking spots perpetuate discrimination? Wouldn’t classrooms that offer specialized aid to those with disabilities be hindering the quality of education that those individuals receive?

I do not actually believe those points, but I am making the comparisons to prove that shutting down such a helpful program, that many members have served many years of their lives at, would only displace its clients and the hundreds of employees who rely on CWI as their primary source of income to survive.

In a perfect world I would love that discrimination toward any kind of group of people would become nonexistent. I would love to see companies hiring more individuals with disabilities and paying them the same amount as any other employee, but the reality is that employers discriminate whether we like it or not. Along with the fact that many of the clients of CWI have varying degrees of disability, many of them really may not feel comfortable working outside of the program, Lewis included.

I will mention that these people will be offered placement at many other day programs in which they can develop social skills and keep a daily routine. However, that raises a lot of unanswered questions of transportation to and from the program, how the people of CWI will feel building a trusting rapport with new employees and where the employees losing their jobs will go for financial support.

So, what the future of our disabled community members will look like, and how my brother will be able to adapt to these changes is unknown to me. I am hoping for the best, and honestly hoping that my hesitations are proven wrong because those with disabilities are some of the kindest and happiest people I will ever meet, and I really do not want our systems to continue failing these beautiful human beings.

Cover Image Credit: Acacia Ladd-Cocca

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9 Eligible Princes You Need To Know About Now That Prince Harry Is Off The Market

You too could have a Meghan Markle fairytale
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Prince Harry's royal wedding is officially over and there won't be another British royal wedding for quite some time now, as Prince George is way too young to start thinking about that. Fortunately, there are plenty of other countries with plenty of other princes that are still eligible bachelors at the moment. Lucky for you, I did my research and compiled a list of all the eligible princes you need to know about know that Prince Harry has tied the knot with Meghan Markle.

1. Prince Louis of Luxembourg (31)

Prince Louis is the third son of the Grand Duke Henri and Duchess Maria Theresa of Luxembourg. He has recently become a bachelor again after his separation with his wife of 10 years, Princess Tessy.

Fun Fact: He graduated from Richmond, The American International University of London with a BA in Communications. He can also speak Luxembourgish (the fact that's even a language is fun fact by itself), French, German, and English fluently.

2. Prince Sebastien of Luxembourg (26)

Prince Sebastien is the youngest child of the Grand Duke Henri and Duchess Maria Theresa of Luxembourg, so if you marry him, you'll probably never actually be queen because he's pretty far removed from the throne. However, he's relatively young and single, so best of luck.

Fun Fact: For some bizarre reason, this prince actually went to college in Ohio. He played rugby and graduated from Franciscan University of Steubenville in 2015. Now, he is back in his home country and is an officer in the Luxembourg Army.

3. Prince Phillipos of Greece and Denmark (34)

You read that correctly, Prince Phillipos is the prince of not one, but two countries. He is the youngest son of King Constantine and Queen Anne Marie of Greece and Denmark. Unfortunately, Greece abolished their monarchy, so he's a prince in name only there.

Fun Fact: Like Prince Sebastien, Prince Phillipos also went to college in the United States. He earned his B.A. in foreign relations from Georgetown University in 2008. Fortunately, for us American girls, he is actually still living in the US and he works in New York City as an analyst at Ortelius Capital.

4. Prince Albert of Thurn and Taxis (34)

Ever heard of Thurn and Taxis? No? Me neither. Anyways, Prince Albert is from the House of Thurn and Taxis, which is essentially a very old German aristocratic family. He is the son of Prince Johannes XI of Thurn and Taxis and Countess Gloria of Schonburg Glauchau. His family is well known for their breweries and castles, so unless you're gluten-free, you can't really complain.

Fun Fact: He's not just a prince. He's also a racecar driver and 10 years ago he was ranked 11th on Forbes Magazine's List of The 20 Hottest Young Royals.

5. Prince Mateen of Brunei (26)

Prince Mateen is basically like all the guys you already know, except he's royalty. He's the prince of Brunei, which is a small country on the island of Borneo, south of Vietnam. He is one of the five sons of Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah, and he also has seven sisters. Maybe that's a little different than the guys you know, but one thing he takes very seriously, just like most frat guys, is his Instagram.

Fun Fact: Mateen enjoys playing polo, flying in his private plane, cuddling cute wild animals, and keeping up his Insta game with 890k followers. You can follow him @tmski.

6. Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum of Dubai (35)

Sheikh Hamdan also has a killer Instagram with 6.3 million followers. Anyways, Sheikh Hamdan is the billionaire crown prince of Dubai and the second son of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, who is the prime minister of the United Arab Emirates and essentially the king of Dubai (Emir). He's actually next in line for the throne because his older brother died in 2015.

Fun Fact: Hamdan's hobbies include skydiving, zip lining, and diving, just to name a few, so if you're an adrenaline junkie, Sheikh Hamdan is the prince for you.

7. Prince Hussein of Jordan (23)

Prince Hussain is the son of the extremely beautiful, Queen Rania and Abdullah II of Jordan and next in line for the Jordanian throne. At 23, he's already a second lieutenant in the Jordanian Armed Forces and he was the youngest person ever to chair a UN Security Council Meeting


Fun Fact: Like Prince Phillippos, Prince Hussain also graduated from Georgetown University in Washington D.C.. Also, like Prince Mateen and Prince Hamdan, he's Insta famous with 1.3 million followers and you can follow him @alhusseinjo.

8. Prince Constantine-Alexios of Greece and Denmark (19)

Like Prince Phillipos, Prince Constantine-Alexios also has two countries. Lucky for us though, he is also living in the US right now attending Georgetown University in Washington D.C. (like pretty much every other prince, amirite?) He is the oldest son of Crown Princess Marie-Chantal and Crown Prince Pavlos of Greece.

Fun Fact: He's Prince William's godson, so that's pretty neat. However, if that wasn't cool enough, you might like to know that this Greek/Danish prince was actually born in New York. Oh yeah, you can also follow him on Instagram @alexiosgreece where he has 88.7k followers.

9. Prince Joachim of Belgium (26)

Prince Joachim of Belgium, Archduke of Austria-Este is the third child of Lorenz, Archduke of Austria-Este and Princess Astrid of Belgium. Although he bears the title, "Prince of Belgium," he is also Archduke of Austria-Este, Prince Royal of Hungary and Bohemia, and Prince of Modena. Unfortunately, he'll probably never actually be king in any of these countries as he is ninth in line to the Belgian throne.

Fun Fact: Prince Joachim has degrees in economics, management, and finance, but he decided to join the Nautical School in Brugge after completing college and is currently an officer in the Belgian Navy.

Hope is not lost for all you girls dreaming of finding a Prince Charming that's literally a prince. After reviewing the data, my best advice is to transfer to Georgetown where princes are basically around every corner.

Cover Image Credit: @meghantheduchessofsussexstyle/Instagram

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What It's Like Being The Oldest Of 7 Children

I am the oldest of seven children and it's the best thing in the world.

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I am the first born out of seven kids. My family includes six girls and one boy. The names of my siblings, from oldest to youngest, are Ty (17), Cassidy (15), Summer (14), Jordyn Claire (11), Presley (7), and Hope McKenzie (1). Being the oldest of my six younger siblings who also look up to me as their role model is not a walk in the park by no means. As I have grown to be the person I am today I have realized some things about becoming a big sister to so many kids and I've learned a lot from my extravagant family.

First: Set a good example.

Whether you know it or not someone of any age is always looking up to you and saying things to their selves about how they wish to have a trait or character like yours. So always make sure you can control the words and actions that you are portraying. Paying attention to the music you listen to, not only around others but by yourself as well, can be a great start to a good role model. What you say to your parents and having an attitude with them or not can change how your younger siblings respect your parents, it can even affect how they treat all adults.

Second: There's never a dull moment.

At the Watkins household, it is not quiet until everyone is in bed and dead asleep. But honestly, and I would probably never admit this to my family, it's the best thing in the world to always have something to talk about or all the loud and weird noises that the kids make. If my house was quiet during the day I would probably think the rapture is coming. I have the most outgoing and loving family. My family is fun to be around, even though I am always begging for a break away from them.

Third: You will always be the babysitter.

When mom and dad do get a break from us I usually the babysitter, which really isn't as bad as you think. We have dance parties and we karaoke, hide-n-seek, so pretty much any game you can think of.

Fourth: You will probably grow up faster than you expected.

I would definitely say that I matured a lot faster than most people in my grade. Just because I did have to take care of my siblings and help them grow up to become a great friend and a leader. The minute that I turned sixteen I had to drive my siblings anywhere they pleased. If they had practice, I would be the one to take them and if they wanted to go to the pool, I was once again the one to take them. I try to go to all their sports events and their programs, which are very adorable and enjoyable.

Fifth: Having a clean house is a struggle.

Having seven kids and two adults you would think the house would be easy to keep clean but newsflash its not. Having this many people in one house is a struggle to keep anything clean, but when we all pitch in it doesn't take very long to clean. Most of the time my things go missing such as socks, shoes, clothes, chargers, literally, almost everything gets lost, but if you walk across the hall and look in Cassidy's room it's most likely there on her floor. I guess that's just one of the most valuable and also anger-able things you have to go through being the oldest!

Cover Image Credit:

Abbygale Watkins

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