ALEXANDRIA, VA- Recently, in a pre-recorded message, the Alexandria Commission on Persons With Disabilities (ACPD) recognized two individuals and two businesses for their role in improving the lives of people with disabilities. This is the second straight year ACPD has chosen to present awards virtually because of COVID-19.
“The annual Alexandria Commission on Persons with Disabilities awards, which are co-sponsored by the Alexandria Chamber of Commerce, are significant to our community because they highlight achievement and success, and affirm the importance of inclusion and equity, which we celebrate in the City of Alexandria,” said Jean Kelleher, Director of the Office of Human Rights.
Hiba Masood, a George Mason University Student, received the Gerry Bertier Scholarship. (Berteir was a member of the 1971 T.C. Williams Football team, later involved in a car accident that resulted in paraplegia.) The ACPD recognized her passion for helping individuals with mental illness and her plans to become a psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner. Masood wants to remove the stigma around mental illness. Further, she wants to make a difference in the lives of those affected by mental illness through raising awareness and improving care and education in the field.
Lieutenant Jason North, of the Alexandria Police Department (APD), received John Duty Collins III Outstanding Advocate for Persons with Disabilities Award. (Collins was an Alexandria resident and early advocate for people with disabilities.) The ACPD recognized North as a passionate advocate for the autistic community. He has worked improve APD’s ability to effectively interact with autistic individuals by developing autism awareness training for all of the department’s officers. He also created and hosted an APD Sensory Friendly Awareness Event for children with sensory disabilities, It allowed them to enjoy time with their families and public safety professionals. North has also has also supported the region’s Special Olympics and participated in many other advocacy activities.
Greenstreet Gardens received a Disability Awareness Award. In 2018, Owners Ray and Stacy Greenstreet began a partnership with Alexandria City Public Schools (ACPS) to provide internships and employment to high school students with disabilities. Through this program, Greenstreet Gardens has provided students with workplace readiness skills, created an inclusive workplace, and advocated for the concept of equality for all.
Scramble Indoor Play also received a Disability Awareness Award. Owner Laurence Smallman opened the company’s doors to students with disabilities through the ACPS Career and Transition Services office. Student interns at Scramble become part of the team from the moment they put on the uniform. Everyone, regardless of their level of ability, has an opportunity grow within the company. These paid internships pair each student with a knowledgeable staff member. Through this partnership, interns receive individualized training, and team members gain a better understanding of others.
The Bertier Scholarship and Collins Award winners were chosen by vote of the ACPD. The Disability Awareness Award winners were selected by the Chamber of Commerce.
To view the presentation, click HERE.