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Helen Kaplan Center DSPs, FLS Recognized for Progress on OPWDD/NADSP E-Badge Academy

Direct Support Professionals Connie Buckhannon and Keltoum Conklin Direct Support Professionals Connie Buckhannon and Keltoum Conklin have found success in the OPWDD/NADSP E-Badge Academy.

With an already busy schedule supporting residents at the Helen Kaplan Center Intermediate Care Facility (ICF), Direct Support Professionals (DSPs) Keltoum Conklin and Connie Buckhannon, and Assistant Manager Camille Williams, have taken it upon themselves to grow their careers and skills.

Keltoum, Connie and Camille are pursuing certification through the Office for People with Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD)/ National Alliance for Direct Support Professionals (NADSP) E-Badge Academy.

The E-Badge Academy offers an opportunity for DSPs and Frontline Supervisors (FLS) to enhance professional development and receive recognition for the skills they’ve accumulated on the job. To earn e-badges, testimonials and training transcripts are completed in two areas: NADSP Accredited Education and Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Core Competence Areas. The earned e-badges can be used to attain a nationally recognized NADSP Certification.

The E-Badge Academy provides Citizens Option Unlimited with another opportunity to recognize the skills and expertise of staff, many of whom have dedicated years to the I/DD community. Staff members benefit by reflecting on the life-changing work they do, while building up their resume for career advancement.

Camille, who has been with the agency’s network for 18 years, inspired Connie, a seven-year DSP, and Keltoum, a 14-year DSP, to participate in the E-Badge Academy. They take time during their busy day to work on it. So far, Keltoum has finished the E-Badge Academy, and Camille and Connie will soon complete theirs.

Keltoum said that the E-Badge Academy helps to refresh her memory about all the skills she’s acquired over the course of her career, as well as inspire new ideas to face challenges she may experience as a DSP.

“You have to have a heart to work in this place,” Keltoum said. “You must want it, because helping people is a joy, and at the same time is a job. But, it’s actually a good thing.”

Connie said the program provides information about I/DD and new ways of approaching situations with residents and fellow staff members. Connie added that the E-Badge Academy reminds participants to take care of their own health and manage anxiety during times of stress.

“My favorite part of working here is the people we support,” Connie said. “Being able to help them, people who can’t help themselves, and teaching them new skills can be challenging, but at the end of the day is worth it, just to see the progress they make.”

Camille said in addition to working with the residents of the Helen Kaplan Center, she also enjoys working with her fellow staff members. The E-Badge Academy is a reminder, especially as a manager, to manage emotions and stay present.

“There’s teamwork and we look forward to that,” Camille said.

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