News and Events

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For National Bullying Prevention Month, HeartShare Empowers People with Disabilities

October 26, 2017

Community, In The Media

Several HeartShare programs coordinated a social media awareness and safety workshop for its adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

The management teams at HeartShare’s Sharkey II Residence and Queens Day Habilitation Program teamed up to develop a workshop addressing their growing concern for program participants and their online safety.

“Many of our individuals with I/DD have access to cell phones, tablets and game consoles. They also use multiple apps, such as Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat,” shared Queens Day Hab Coordinator Carolyn Delgado. “Our individuals are capable and wired in. Why aren’t we talking about it?”

The social media awareness training aimed to help program participants safely navigate those platforms and addressed texting etiquette, sexting, cyberbullying, and pornography. Participants also learned how to create strong passwords, adjust privacy settings, and to think twice before downloading content.

“On social media, our individuals have learned to build friendships, develop social identity and self-esteem. When facing negative experiences, it seems that the group now is better prepared to handle those situations,” observed Residence Manager Nancy Porsenna.

Studies on the relationship between bullying and developmental disabilities sadly indicate that children with disabilities were two to three times more likely to be bullied than their nondisabled peers.

“Everything we are doing for this vulnerable population ultimately is about giving them the tools to take control of their lives and build self-worth,” said Linda Tempel, Executive Director of HeartShare’s Developmental Disabilities Services. “I’m proud that our programs took the initiative to create a safe space for our adults, who now know how to better combat bullying—on and offline,” she said.

To learn more about HeartShare’s Developmental Disabilities, visit