Friday, November 2, 2012

Panelists share insights on living with disabilities


DISABILITY DISCUSSION: From left, Amirhosseini, Brennan, Babineau and Buizon


Larry Brennan was a college freshman when his life was forever changed. While on spring break in the Bahamas with friends, he dove into the ocean and broke his neck. Twenty years later the senior development officer in the MGH Development Office spoke about how his life has – and hasn’t – changed in the years since. “It hasn’t affected my life or what I like to do,” said Brennan, who is partially paralyzed and uses a wheelchair. “But it taught me that I’m capable
every day of doing more than I could have ever imagined.”

Brennan was joined by Sarah Babineau, affirmative action compliance analyst for Partners HealthCare, and Joey Buizon, employment service specialist for the Massachusetts Commission for the Blind, as panelists for the program “Insights: Lessons We Can Learn from Employees with Disabilities.” Zary Amirhosseini, disability program manager, moderated the Oct. 11 event, one of four programs the MGH hosted as part of National Disability Employment Awareness Month. The events were sponsored by the MGH Council on Disability Awareness, the Employees with Disabilities Resource Group, the Employee Assistance Program, Human Resources and the Office of Patient Advocacy.

The panelists spoke candidly about day-to-day living with a disability, including their interactions with colleagues. “On good days, it’s really easy to interact with people, but on bad days, it can be difficult as my disability is not always evident,” said Babineau, who has post-traumatic stress disorder. “I see it as a precious part of me and it gives me a responsibility to advocate for myself and to educate others.”

The group stressed the importance of others not being afraid to talk to them about their disabilities. “Don’t be afraid to ask questions, because we’re always open to people,” said Buizon, who is legally blind. “Spread the word. Spread the love. Tell a colleague what you learned here today. And know that all questions are good – ask them.” 

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