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Embracing Freedom and Control: My Journey with CDPAS

Author: Jensen Caraballo

Date: Saturday, January 6, 2024

Today, I want to share with you a personal aspect of my life that has been transformational – my experience with the Consumer Directed Personal Assistance Services (CDPAS) program in New York State.

For many years, living with a disability meant navigating a world that often felt like it was designed without considering people like me. My time in an institution as a teenager was a stark reminder of this reality. I lacked control over my daily life, and the sense of dependency was overwhelming. However, my journey took a significant turn when I discovered CDPAS.

CDPAS: A Gateway to Independence

CDPAS isn’t just a program; it’s a pathway to independence for people with disabilities. It allows individuals like me to hire, train, and manage our personal care assistants. This might sound simple, but for someone who spent years in an institution, it's nothing short of revolutionary.

My Personal Experience with CDPAS

Since enrolling in CDPAS, I've experienced a level of freedom I never thought possible. I’ve been able to hire reliable people to provide aide services and support. This might seem mundane to some, but for me, it’s a profound change. The ability to choose who enters my space and assists me with personal care is a dignity I cherish deeply.

Hiring, Firing, Training: The Power of Choice

The power to hire, fire, and train my assistants lies with me. This control allows me to ensure that the people assisting me understand my needs and respect my autonomy. I make up the schedule based on my needs, not someone else's convenience. 

From Institutionalization to Self-Determination

Reflecting on my time in the institution, I remember the lack of control and the feeling of being just another number. CDPAS has flipped that narrative. Now, I am the decision-maker. I determine who supports me and how. This shift from institutionalization to self-determination has been fundamental in my advocacy work and in living my life on my terms.

CDPAS: More Than Just Assistance

CDPAS does more than just provide physical assistance; it reinforces the idea that disability rights are human rights. It embodies the principles of independent living and personal autonomy. It’s a testament to what can be achieved when systems are designed with the needs and rights of the disabled community in mind.

Closing Thoughts

In closing, I hope my story inspires others in the disability community to explore programs like CDPAS. It’s not just about getting the help you need; it's about reclaiming your freedom and your right to live life on your terms.

Remember, control and freedom are not just ideals; they are necessities for a dignified life.

Stay strong and keep advocating!

Jensen Caraballo

Disability Rights Advocate and Accessibility Specialist

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