Chelsea McCloskey joined the Joseph Maley Foundation this summer as disABILITY Awareness Manager. She experienced her first Run, Walk, Roll while balancing the needs (and challenges) of her new role.
To put it simply, why JMF?
JMF stands for everything I am passionate about: individuals with disabilities, working with children, a focus on the entire family system, mental health, and inclusive sports!
How does this job differ from previous experiences you may have had?
In my role as disABILITY Awareness Manager, I am a little more hands-off with the population of people with different abilities as compared to my previous job as a teacher. It has been a brain shift for me to know that I am still serving this incredible population, just in a different way.
Anything unexpected at JMF so far?
The purchase of the new van! Yay! I was getting concerned on how to fit disABILITY Awareness equipment in my Chevy Sonic. 🙂
How would you describe the work environment at JMF?
I have thoroughly enjoyed working alongside those who are passionate about the same things that I am. The common love for wanting to serve people of all abilities is so inspiring and contagious I want to continue to serve more and spread more awareness. Everyone has been so welcoming and I am very thankful to be a part of this work family!
JMF’s mission statement is intentionally broad. Where do you think your position fits into the mission of “serving children of all abilities”?
I have the pleasure of planning with schools to focus on their vision for disABILITY Awareness week. In these meetings we decide what areas need to be addressed and how to best attend to these areas. I serve children of all abilities by bringing awareness to students, teachers, parents, and administrators. We tailor each DA week to the individual school and their unique needs. Also, being part of Joseph Maley Friends Puppet Troupe training camp was so fun! I was able to continue to work with children, while educating them on something I am so passionate about.
How do you, personally, fulfill the mission statement of JMF?
By bringing awareness to schools, helping develop curriculum, researching different educational books and resources, and training/educating others on my experiences of serving those with all abilities.
What were you doing before JMF?
I was a middle school special education teacher for those with severe disabilities for five years. I was also a volleyball coach for three years.
What were you looking forward to when starting this job? Afraid of?
I was looking forward to working with an amazing staff that is passionate about the same things I am!
I was mostly afraid of the change that comes with anything new.
What did you think of the JMF Run, Walk, Roll?
I LOVED the Run, Walk, Roll! I had a few students and former colleagues come and participate, which was fun to see the crossover between my old and new jobs. I loved seeing the run2gether crews in action and all of their captains and supporters. Creating a way for all people to participate is such an incredible thing to witness.
What are some unique challenges to working at JMF?
It may seem silly…but figuring out where I want to work each day can be challenging to me…the Center, at home, a coffee shop? I was so used to being at the school from set times like 7:00-4:00 that this flexibility has thrown me a little bit. I know flexibility is a huge benefit, I just need to figure out how to best navigate it! It has also been a learning curve to know that not only do I get to choose where I work, but so does everyone else. Therefore, I have to be strategic when I want to make sure to see someone to plan with them, etc. Again, it’s a major benefit to the job, just something I was not used to. But I am getting the hang of it…like today I am working from home!
Is there anything else you’d like to say?
I have loved the last month of getting to learn more about JMF and all that it encompasses! I am eager to get into the schools this fall to see the program in action!
Interview by Gino Maley
Loyola University of Chicago
Joseph Maley Foundation Board of Directors