Co-op Legacy Fellows Kaitlin Girardini and Carly Malesky

Redefining the Perception of Ability

Spring 2020 UConn Co-op Legacy Fellowship – Change Grant Project

Project Summary

The “Redefining the Perception of Ability” documentary was created with the goal of promoting a more inclusive environment for differently abled populations. As individuals watch this documentary, we encourage them to reflect on their own experiences with disabled persons and look for opportunities to improve these interactions. We also hope the enthusiasm of our interviewees for serving their respective communities will encourage viewers to find similar opportunities within these organizations or populations.

View the documentary on YouTube.

About Kaitlin

Kaitlin is a Biological Sciences major and Anthropology minor with a long-held interest in humanities. After completion of her undergraduate degree, Kaitlin plans to pursue a Master’s degree in Molecular and Cell Biology while studying the intersection of disabilities, pathologies and genetics. Kaitlin became interested in working with special populations in high school, and fostered this interest as a special education teaching assistant during her undergraduate years.

Reflecting on the Project

Having experience working with special education students, I was enthused to have the opportunity to introduce other students in my community to the ways they can get involved. It was an incredibly rewarding experience to listen to professionals in these service fields talk about what their positions mean to them and work for the betterment of those around them. My personal experience lies primarily in elementary school demographics, and so it was interesting to hear the perspectives of people working with different disabilities and age demographics than myself. It is humbling to work closely with professionals and volunteers committed to the betterment of the community, and I hope these testimonies encourage students to continue pursuing their community interests with kindness and empathy.

About Carly

Carly graduated in May 2021 with a Dual Degree in Physiology & Neurobiology and Psychology and a minor in neuroscience. In the future, Carly aims to create an inclusive environment for her patients she serves as a physician in addition to maintaining involvement in these communities outside a clinical setting.

Reflecting on the Project

Being a volunteer with both Camp Promise and Camp Horizons, I was excited to show others the reasons why I am so passionate about my service there. However, I left each interview with more information about the camps that I did not know before! I also had the opportunity to work more closely with staff and obtain their perspectives of why they began this career path or remain a dedicated volunteer, which I found most enlightening. It was also really interesting to see their different perspectives on their service and hear of their personal interactions with their communities. The ability to create this project showed me that there is so much more I can do to better understand the communities I serve. I aim to continue on this journey inspired by the Change Grant and assist others interested in becoming involved with their local community.


Special thanks to those that took the time to speak with us about their experiences working with differently abled populations!