Video edited by Matt Pochily
The capABLE Campaign has three objectives:
show a diverse perspective on life in our community
give children with diverse needs adult role models from their own community to emulate
show the power of inclusion – not only do these individuals thrive but our entire community thrives when inclusion is part of the picture
We are currently looking for new and empowered models to feature in 2019.
Models should be 18+, have a diverse ability, and unique perspective on life in RVA. We also love to feature related organizations as part of the feature, typically using these locations as the portrait backdrop. If you have a location in mind, share that too.
Models will participate in a photo shoot, an interview, and be featured through our social media campaign this spring. The campaign will culminate to a gallery exhibit and celebration this summer.
The portraits will be exhibited this summer at the Virginia Museum of History and Culture.
Apply to be a 2019 Model
Nominations are due February 27, 2019.
Apply for yourself or nominate another:
Please provide as much detail as possible - it is critical for the selection process.
The 2018 capABLE Project
This spring, The Next Move Program teamed up with 6 professional photographers and 13 individuals with diverse needs for a social media campaign to prove that we are all capABLE. The models that were selected have remarkable and varied stories. They are business owners, advocates, athletes, authors, volunteers, and artists. What they all have in common is their engagement in area programs. Each portrait was captured at a different location in our city, tied to each model’s story.
These portraits have been shared throughout the spring on social media and will be on display at the Virginia Museum of History and Culture starting June 16, 2018.
Join us June 14th at the Museum for a celebration and preview of the exhibit. The event is from 5:30-7:30 pm and hosted by CBS 6's Nikki-Dee Ray. All proceeds will go to our scholarship fund.
Many thanks to our models and photographers. Our photographers included Scott Elmquist, James Loving, Luke Witt, Jim Hale, George Baskerville, and Kourtney Smithson.
Madison is actively involved throughout the Richmond Community. She volunteers regularly with Discovery Church at the Daycare, assisting with the children. She is also a LiveArt participant and a 2017 Next Move Graduate from our University of Richmond site.
Madison is currently employed. “I work here at Crunch Fitness. And I walk dogs in my neighborhood.” Her favorite part of working is helping others: “They always tell me that I do a good job and that makes me feel so good.”
Many personal qualities make Madison feel capable. “I am capable because I am responsible, helpful, trustworthy, and dependable.” She enjoys injecting positivity into every situation. “I am a joyful person and I make people around me feel happy.”
Madison’s best day would be one spent at the beach with her family.
Her favorite part of living in RVA is spending time outside with her dog. She also enjoys the shopping, entertainment, and restaurant scene.
For the future, Madison would like to volunteer more with children in the community and maybe have that be part of a future career.
Don’t let Mandy’s laid-back personality and constant smile fool you, she is a fierce competitor. Mandy joined Sportable in 2017 following a spinal cord injury. “Last year was my first year as a Sportable Athlete. Before my car accident which caused my spinal cord injury, I was heavily involved in sports and participated in soccer, swimming, dance, and cheerleading. After joining Sportable, it felt great to call myself an athlete again and be competitive once more.”
In her first year, she was named the 2017 Rookie of the Year by the organization and participated in rowing, hand cycling, and archery. “It was through Sportable that I competed in my first Sprints Regatta, rode in my first 5k bike race, and brought home the Silver Medal in the 1000m Women’s Para Rowing event at the World Rowing Para Indoor Championships in Alexandria, Virginia.”
Outside of competition, Mandy is actively involved with the United Spinal Association of Virginia. “I mentor women with recent spinal cord injuries at VCU and local rehabs. Females account for only about 20% of those with SCIs. When I’m notified of a young woman who is recently injured, I visit them to share the advice that I wish someone had given me soon after my accident. We continue to follow up with each other for a few months and I try to encourage them and help them with their goals.”
Mandy also has degrees in Biology and Chemistry from VCU; she is actively on the job hunt and would not rule out returning to school for an MBA.
Many personal attributes make Mandy feel capable. “I am great at adapting and overcoming. I believe where there’s a will, there’s a way and with the power of persistence, practice, and by the grace of God, anything is possible.”
The perfect day for Mandy would include a long walk with her pug and time with loved ones. She credits her family’s support for her many achievements.
Mandy is optimistic about the future. She hopes to “Travel more. Obtain another degree. Have a fulfilling career that I enjoy. Be a role model for people in similar situations, encourage them, and give them the advice I wish someone would have given me.”
On Saturday mornings, you will find Edward at the South of the James Farmer’s Market; he will greet you with a smile while directing you to parking or answering your questions at GrowRVA’s informational booth. Edward began as a volunteer last summer with the organization and now is out every weekend, supporting both vendors and customers at the market. He loves belonging to the SOTJ market community and greets all of the regulars by name.
Edward is also a 2017 graduate of The Next Move Program, completing training at Wells Fargo Advisors. And he is a SPARC LiveArt participant, contributing his drumming and percussion talent to the annual show.
There are many personal attributes that make Edward feel capable. “I am good with people. I adapt really well. I am willing to do many things, give them a try. Also, I am good with building things.”
His best day would include friends and travel. “A day of hanging out with my friends and traveling to new places. I am hoping to go to Japan for 2020 to see some of the Olympics and the new Universal park.”
Edward’s favorite meal is “meatloaf with Italian Soda.”
Edward lives independently and appreciates how walkable sections of Richmond are. His current goal is to get his driver’s permit. “Right now, it is learning to drive. I am keeping it simple. I think if I can accomplish that, then there will be many more things that I can do.”
Photo credit: K. Smithson Photography
Widely known as “The Mayor of Chesterfield County,” Paul welcomed our team for his photo shoot and interview into his home, one that he shares with his longtime girlfriend. Very quickly, the interview wove into a tour of their home and stories that highlight his involvement throughout Chesterfield.
“I am involved with Special Olympics Virginia, the Knights of Columbus Council 6189, People’s First, which is this self-advocacy group for people with intellectual disabilities speaking for our rights, St. Edward’s Church, and I also work at Kroger. I have been there for 17 years as a bagger and courtesy clerk.” At Kroger, he also serves in a leadership capacity. “I am also one of the head trainers, training those with intellectual disabilities and those without.”
His favorite mementos include pictures of him and his girlfriend, whom he met through Special Olympics, and copies of “By Their Works, 60 Great Men of Faith,” a text created by KOVAR, in which he is featured.
Paul feels most capable when sharing his story: “I would say public speaking with Special Olympics. I have been to Dublin, Ireland and spoken in front of 75,000 people.”
For a perfect day, Paul would “...spend time with all my friends at Special Olympics and Knights of Columbus.”
And for his favorite meal is “anything that my girlfriend cooks.”
For the future, Paul hopes to continue to live independently, be involved in the community, and love life.
Ajay is one of the most talented and humble individuals that you will ever meet. He is a gifted pianist and a composer. “I am a part time employee at my former High School, Northstar Academy. I play the piano and keyboard for the chorus there. I am also a student at the Berklee College of Music through their online program.”
He hopes to continue his study of music and create a career based on his passion. “I am an aspiring music composer. I hope to compose music for various documentaries.” He enjoys all genres of music. “As a kid, I was exposed to so many different types of music. My top six are jazz, classical, blues, any music film score, alternative rock and pop, and also electronic music.”
Ajay is a 2017 graduate of the Next Move Program from our Wells Fargo Site. He is also very involved in SPARC’s annual LiveArt performance.
There are many personal attributes that make Ajay feel capable. “I take my work very seriously and I am very passionate about it. If there is one thing that I have, it is tenacity. I got that from my dad. He was a very hard worker and he taught me how to work hard, and how to chase after my dreams.”
When not performing, Ajay enjoys traveling with his family and chowing down on sushi.
He has many goals for the future. “I already have my driver’s permit, but I want my license so I can be more independent. I also want to join another organization that deals with music. I also want to live a very healthy, active, and stress-free lifestyle.”
Ajay, we are proud to call you our friend and cannot wait to see all the increible things that you will accomplish.
James is known for his smile and sense of humor. He is also involved in many area organizations. “I am involved in the Down Syndrome Association and at St. Gabriel’s Church. I volunteer at the church with CARITAS to help serve meals...and I also work with First Flight. We do construction.”
The setting of our photo shoot was at Luminary Hair, a business that has purchased items which James helped construct with First Flight.
He currently attends Clover Hill High School in Chesterfield. “I go to Clover Hill High School. It is a great place. I go to the Transition Academy. We work on job skills there.”
James feels capable in many ways. “I am a good friend. I can make you laugh. I work hard. I am a great party host.”
When asked what his favorite quality is about himself, he said “my beard” with a laugh.
His perfect day would be “going to a bar with my sister for a beer once I am 21. And eating Hawaiian pizza.” James is also a fan of American Idol and has met Ryan Seacrest. James shared that he was “friendly, but short.” He often hosts American Idol watching parties for this friends, enjoying the role of host.
As for the future, James’ wish is “...to keep working after high school.”
Adeline is an incredibly engaged woman, contributing her time and talents to so many area organizations. “I am connected to River City Stars Cheerleading, LIveArt, UR Best Buddies, Capernaum, Special Olympics, Northstar Academy, Meals on Wheels, and do volunteering at Hope Church. “
After a school based internship at Performance Food Group, Adeline was invited to return to the organization for additional training. She excelled. Adeline was offered employment with the organization this spring. “I am employed at PFG. I was just hired after an internship...I love all of it, I really like the front desk.”
For her perfect day, Adeline would take a trip to the beach. “My favorite day would be at the beach. I would walk and look for shells.” She also would spend it listening to Justin Bieber.
Her favorite place to visit in Richmond is the University of Richmond’s Campus. “I like living near the University of Richmond. I hang out with my best buddy, Emma, and we take walks around campus. We also eat there.”
Adeline pulls confidence from her engagement. “I am capable because I have a job and I volunteer.” There are many personal characteristics that she is most proud of. “I am smart, bright, kind. I am a good friend.”
Adeline, you are all of these qualities and many more. Thank you for sharing your story with us.
Tiko is a man of few words, but his unique voice is perfectly captured in his art. Through graphic design, Tiko shares about loss, love, and celebrates nature.
Tiko is a graduate of the Next Move Program, participating at our Wells Fargo site in 2017. He is also a graduate of James River High School, where he learned the ins and outs of Photoshop. Further, Tiko is very active as a regular volunteer at St. Matthew’s Church.
He hopes to continue his training in graphic design and one day make it a career. When asked what makes him feel most Capable, Tiko said “I do graphic design best. I can also sing well.”
He enjoys researching natural attractions and animals, and incorporating them into his art. He is currently inspired by images of Niagara Falls and would like to plan a trip soon. “I would go to Niagara Falls. I would go because it would give me some inspiration for my design work...I am always looking to push myself and my work further. My favorite animal is an Argentavis. They are extinct, but lived back in the Ice Ages. I plan to incorporate them in my art too.”
Tiko has simple tastes when it comes to meals. “I would say that my favorite thing to eat would probably be Slim Jims. And to drink, I just like water or lemonade.”
Tiko has many goals for the future: “To be a graphic designer, to be the best version of myself, to help my mom buy a house.”
We are including some of Tiko’s art with this story because it is the only way to capture his talents. Enjoy. It has been featured on CBS 6 by our friend, Nikki-Dee Ray.
Photo credit: Jim Hale
Emily uses her voice and experience to advocate for others with disabilities. She is employed by I’m Determined as a Youth Leader. Run by the Virginia Department of Education, I’m Determined provides instruction and opportunities for youth with disabilities to develop self-reflection skills, to set goals, and to find their voice in sharing their needs.
Emily also works as a Special Education Teaching Assistant. “I am a Teacher’s Assistant with Fluvanna County Schools. Right now, I am working with students who are struggling to learn how to read and to do common academic skills. It’s really cool to be able to do some of the things that I struggled with in school and to be able to teach that now.”
She draws upon her own experience in school to support and inspire her students. “I think what makes me capable is that I can set a goal and no matter what, I am going to get there, even if it takes re-evaluating that goal or making a smaller goal first. I am pretty determined to get through the things that I want to get through.”
As for her favorite personal attribute, she appreciates her ability to connect with others. “I am a person that is willing to sit down and get to know somebody, and will not judge based on their outward appearance or their story.”
Advocacy is her greatest passion. “My biggest passion is that not everybody has a voice – I have a voice and I am able to speak up for my rights and other people’s rights. That is where I am needed in life...because we are people just like everyone else.”
She enjoys living in RVA, as she’s found that this community is pushing for progress: “That there are lots of opportunities for me as an advocate, that things are constantly changing, and that someone needs to be speaking up constantly.”
As for her favorite meal, Emily loves “...Macaroni and Cheese and I am a big coffee drinker.” (Though, not together).
In the future, Emily hopes to live independently. Of course, through I’m Determined, she’s set goals to make that dream happen. “Currently, I am living with my parents. My goal in the next year, though I am hoping it will happen this summer, is for me to move out.”
Emily, thank you for using your voice and encouraging others to do the same. We look forward to having you speak at the Capable Celebration as our Keynote Speaker.
Sarah was crowned in 2017 as the very first Miss. Hanover Abilities. The title is presented annually by Hanover County Support Services. The mission of Hanover Community Support Services is to help meet the needs of Hanover County citizens by providing financial resources to support independent/community living and respite care for individuals with developmental disabilities, emotional and mental health challenges, and challenges with substance use disorder.
Sarah’s title has given her many opportunities to connect with her community. “I was also the very first Miss. Hanover Abilities in 2017. I did three parades. I met many people. I spoke to businesses and I asked them if they could hire more people with disabilities. We can do things just like other people. We are not 100% what you would expect, but we can do it. We are very capable.”
She is also involved in Special Olympics and Friends for Life. Sarah is employed at T.J. Max and she enjoys working in retail.
Sarah lives in a group home managed by Good Neighbor Community Services. She loves her independence. “I am very grateful that I am able to take care of my own needs. I have good independent living skills.” She has decorated her bedroom in a “soft color purple.”
There are many personal attributes that make Sarah feel capable. “I am a good reader. I have a passion for memorizing random and unusual fun facts...for example, learning about actors and actresses with disabilities.” She is also an expert on presidential facts and can share countless facts about area roller coasters, loving the variety at Kings Dominion.
For future plans, she has a list of historical places to visit on her bucket list.
Sarah, it was a pleasure to meet you. We love that you are using your platform to advocate for others with disabilities. Keep it up!
Haley has never met a stranger. She lends her endless energy to many area organizations.
Haley is a graduate of The Next Move Program, completing her internship experience at The University of Richmond. She is still very involved with our Tablespoons Baking program, where she trains weekly in a professional kitchen under a chef, serves at our corporate catering gigs, and sells cookies to the community at the South of the James Farmers Market. “I like doing Tablespoons. We learn to bake and be safe in a kitchen. I am learning to be more independent. We sell to customers. It makes me proud that they like our cookies. I am working on counting change for them too.”
Haley recently completed a training program at Positive Vibe Cafe this past spring and will participate in Project Search next school year. She is currently a senior at James River High School.
There are many personal qualities that make Haley feel capable. “I am good at learning. I am a good friend. I am generous. I help people feel better if they are sad. I am social and I am happy.”
Her perfect day would include a park visit. “I would go to Pocahontas State Park and walk around with some friends – probably have a picnic.”
Haley has many goals for the future. “I want to live independently and get married one day. I want to have my own dog, a pit bull named Bacon. I also want to get my learner’s permit. Nothing can stop me."
And, she is looking forward to celebrating her 21st birthday later this year. She even offered to by our team a round. We may take her up on it.
Photo Credit: Luke Witt
Efren, an Electrical and Mechanical Engineer, is a crucial member of the Maintenance Team at The Greater Richmond ARC’s Camp Baker in Chesterfield. Camp Baker is a year-round, fully accessible facility, serving people of all ages with disabilities. Efren’s responsibilities include electrical, plumbing, drywall, carpentry, and HVAC repairs, along with safety inspections and grounds work. “He has a vast amount of knowledge in most things related to building maintenance,” said his supervisor Bob Lehmann. “He is a hard worker and never complains, and he is a great asset to the Maintenance Department and Camp Baker. We are very lucky to have him working with us today.”
Efren immigrated from the Philippines in the late 90’s for more employment opportunities, after being urged by family members for many years to come to the States. He has been a member of The ARC’s team for the last five years, having also worked at their Defense Supply Center in Richmond, along with completing grounds keeping and other duties at the organization’s headquarters on Saunders Avenue.
Efren became part of the disability community later in life, after losing his hand to an unidentified virus. He spent a year in the hospital and underwent numerous surgeries, before an amputation. “Because of my experience here since I lost my hand, there were so many companies that I applied for, but when they saw me...they thought that I could not work.’ The adjustment was challenging at first. “I was depressed. I wish I had lost my feet and not my hand because this is my livelihood. God wanted me to survive, so here I am.”
He now enjoys a quiet life in Richmond, preferring this city to the hustle and bustle of life in California and New York, other states where he has previously resided. In his free time, he enjoys country music, a day spent on his computer, and cooking his favorite vegetarian dishes.
When asked what he envisions for the future, Efren shared the following with a smile: “I consider myself an old man, that's why I don’t have any more goals...because I’ve already worked my way up. I have traveled everywhere...and I just need to rest.”
In reflecting on his life, Efren’s illness is something that he would not change, as it has given him a deeper appreciation for his life. “I was praying to God to take me, but he didn’t. I’m still here. I’m still strong. Now, I just enjoy my life.”
Photo Credit: Jim Hale
Shaina is a talented artist connected to Milk River Arts, a creative community of artists in Richmond for those both with and without disabilities to learn and cultivate their craft with each other. The inspiration for her art is her life in Richmond. "I take pictures when I don’t have time to sketch something that I’ll want to paint later. I pick people that I think look hip, mostly young people who are around my age. I’m inspired by people who look like they have a story to tell...I think my art is about being able to see different life perspectives."
She especially enjoys sketching and painting while grabbing coffee in her favorite local coffee shop, Alchemy. "I paint in coffee shops because they make me feel normal. Sometimes, I don’t feel like I have disabilities when I’m in a coffee shop. I’m surrounded by young, hip people. Coffee shops are relaxing, you know. They symbolize intelligence.”
Shaina lives in the Faison Residence and navigates the city with GRTC. She enjoys the independence it allows her. When not exploring the city, Shaina is in class at J. Sargeant Reynolds in the Human Services Program. She is also involved with her church at the Buts Theater.
When asked how she is most capable, Shaina shared, “I am good at art. I am good at caring for other people.” There are many personal qualities that she is proud of: “My hair and my loyalty to my friends. Also, my love for God and for others. I try to see the best in others, but can be honest about a person or situation as well.”
Her favorite day would involve a trip to the mountains, the beach, a local coffee shop, or an art gallery, especially the Warehouse Art Gallery in Luray.
As for future goals, she hopes to further her faith, one day roommate with her best friend, and to make a living through her art.
As for closing thoughts, Shaina cut to the heart of this campaign. “I think that it is important to look at those of us with disabilities as intelligent human beings with our own style. Give us a chance...a genuine chance at friendship. You will learn that we are all more similar than different.”
2017 capABLE Highlight:
Video edited by Matt Pochily