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Shannon Curtin’s second summer in the Department of Developmental Services (DDS) Urban Youth Collaborative Internship Program (UYCP) was spent, among other things, leading a dance party for two at Resources for Human Development, Boston, Inc. Curtin, who grew close with one particular individual, said she was proud he also learned all the lyrics to Justin Bieber’s songs, “Sorry” and “What Do You Mean.”

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Secretary Sudders delivers remarks to the interns as they close out the DDS Urban Youth Collaborative Internship Program

Curtin’s story was just one of many told during a recent ceremony held at the State House to recognize the 220 interns who participated in the UYCP this summer. Secretary of Health and Human Services, Marylou Sudders, and DDS Commissioner, Elin Howe, attended the event and thanked the interns for deciding to spend their summer assisting individuals with developmental disabilities at state-operated programs and developmental centers.

Sudders, in her address to the packed crowd of interns, said “what you did this summer could be lasting for someone” and potentially change the life of the disabled individuals.

UYCP serves to introduce young adults to work in human services while also providing assistance to those with developmental disabilities. The long-term goals of the program are  to reduce the stigma associated with developmental disabilities and by giving young adults these opportunities early on in their careers, create a more experienced workforce.

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Secretary Marylou Sudders, along with DDS Commissioner Howe listen on as interns give testimony on their summer internships

Interns Cassandra Boddie and Krista Webb of Luk Inc., based in Fitchburg, addressed the crowd by asking “what is family?” and expressed that it “can be developed in many different ways, not just people in a traditional sense, it’s the people who help you with growth and support, and provide a sense of security.”

Although first-year interns admitted to being nervous in the beginning, the feeling didn’t last long. “On my first day as I walked through the door, an individual there said ‘hi’ and offered me a tour,” said intern Angel Melendez. Then he said, “we are going to be friends this summer,” and I replied,  “yes we are!” said Melendez who interned at Northeast Residential Services in Hathorne. He plans on returning for another UYCP internship next summer.

The UYCP program began in 1992 as a collaborative effort with Madison Park High School and Bay Cove Human Services in Boston and has expanded to include opportunities throughout the state. Since then, over 4,500 interns have participated in the program, and many have gone on to pursue careers in human services.

The following programs participated in the 2016 Urban Youth Collaborative Program:

  • BRIDGEWELL; Lynnfield
  • BEHAVIORAL HEALTH NETWORK/CARSON CENTER; Westfield
  • CENTRAL RESIDENTIAL SERVICES (DDS); Worcester
  • COMMONWEALTH COMMUNITY SERVICES; Northampton
  • DIMOCK CENTER; Roxbury
  • HOGAN REGIONAL CENTER (DDS); Hathorne
  • LIFELINKS; Chelmsford
  • LIFESTREAM, INC.; New Bedford
  • LUK; Fitchburg
  • METRO RESIDENTIAL SERVICES (DDS); Waltham
  • NORTHEAST RESIDENTIAL SERVICES (DDS); Hathorne
  • PEOPLE INC.; Fall River
  • RESOURCES FOR HUMAN DEVELOPMENT BOSTON INC.; Medford
  • ROAD TO RESPONSIBILITY; Marshfield
  • SEVEN HILLS FOUNDATION; Worcester
  • SOUTHEASTERN RESIDENTIAL SERVICES (DDS); Middleboro
  • TEMPLETON COMMUNITY SERVICES; Baldwinville
  • TURNING POINT; Newburyport
  • WORK INC.; Dorchester
  • WRENTHAM DEVELOPMENTAL CENTER (DDS); Wrentham

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