NADSP E-Badge Earner of the Month: Cheryl Louise Nelson

by | Aug 15, 2023 | News

Congratulations to Cheryl Louise Nelson who has been selected as the August 2023 NADSP E-Badge Academy Earner of the Month.We are recognizing Cheryl for her excellent ‘Planning Activities’ E-Badge submission. This badge represents a Direct Support Professionals’ work in encouraging and assisting individuals in connecting with others and developing social and valued social and/or work roles based on their choices.This badge is part of the Community Inclusion and Networking CMS Core Competency. It also aligns with the NADSP Competency Area of Building and Maintaining Friendships and Relationships.

Cheryl works as a Community Support Professional at AHRC New York City. The mission of AHRC NYC is to advocate for people who are neurodiverse to lead full and equitable lives.

Cheryl Louise’s Experiences With The NADSP E-Badge Academy

The National Alliance for Direct Support Professionals (NADSP) recently asked Cheryl about her experiences with the NADSP E-Badge Academy. The questions covered how she carries out her work as a direct support professional, the skillsets she demonstrates on a daily basis, the impact that the E-Badge Academy has had on her professional recognition, and how she gets credit for competency.


Describe the story you shared in carrying out that competency:

One of the people who received supports adores performance arts, in particular musicals. Though he had never been to see a musical performed in a theater before. Upon hearing this, we planned a day event where I could take him to watch one of his favorite musicals on Broadway and to have a meal beforehand. He was able to choose which musical he would like to see and the restaurant to eat at. He went to see Les Misérables and met the cast members at the stage door afterwards. The trip inspired him to help create a musical group at the day program, where he collaborated to create his own musical productions, and he has since performed on stage at an Off-Broadway theater with Broadway actors through another part of the agency.

Why is this competency so important to DSPs?

The people we support are at the heart of everything we do as DSPs. They are the driving force of the supports we provide for them, and as such, should be instrumental in the planning of activities that we provide. The people we support know their dreams, values, and goals better than anyone else, therefore, should be at the forefront of planning activities to help them to achieve success.

How have you used this competency in your work?

Ensuring the people I support are an integral part of planning activities is an instrumental part of my work. Whether it is working together to choose a musical to perform as a group, planning meaningful community outings, or collaborating as a group which goals or skills we would like to work on each day, the person is always involved.

How can other DSPs replicate your practices?

The key to planning activities that are person centered is to know the person you are planning the activity for. Asking the person what their dreams, goals or values are, their hobbies, wants and needs, and then using this information to plan and create activities together. Holding conversations or person-centered groups to gather as much information about who the person is and what they are passionate about allows us to plan more meaningful activities with the person supported at the driving wheel.

How does the NADSP E-Badge Academy benefit your agency?

The E-Badge Academy provides the knowledge, values, and skills a DSP needs to ensure they are providing the highest quality of support, and to ensure that past mistakes/lessons are not repeated. It provides beneficial tools and learning that a DSP can use in their day-to-day work life.

How does NADSP E-Badge Academy benefit the people you support?

I feel the people support benefit from better resources and knowledge of person-centered supports, from DSPs now thinking critically of their own work practices and aligning these to the code of ethics.

What does the future hold for your involvement in the NADSP E-Badge Academy?

I plan to continue with the E-badge Academy to hopefully achieve both level 2 and 3 as I feel it is such a worthwhile course.

How has NADSP E-Badge Academy affected your professional image?

The E-Badge Academy has certainly strengthened my professional identity and has made me strive harder with my own work practices. I am also being recognized more for my work ethics, which has certainly improved my professional image.

I definitely feel more skilled. I feel that areas needing development have been strengthened by the knowledge and values I learnt through the detailed and informative resources on the online platform. It allowed me to critically analyze the work previously done so that I may use this knowledge to better the support which I give.

Each competency is given a badge towards certification. As I am fairly competitive, I enjoyed collecting each badge towards the goal of level 1 DSP.

Statements from AHRC NYC 

The quote here is from Cheryl’s supervisor:

Cheryl Nelson came to us from [AHRC NYC’s] Camp as a Community Support Professional (CSP) and threw her heart and soul into the job. She quickly understood the principles of  person-centered programming  and generously shared her love of musicals with our people, giving them the opportunity to experience the joys of music, theater, and dance.

During the pandemic, Cheryl was one of the few CSPs to volunteer to work in a residence and braved dangerous neighborhoods in order to provide services to the people we support. On ZOOM, she helped people deal with the horrors of what was happening around them by creating “Lockdown” – the Musical, written and performed by her group making lemonade out of lemons.

Cheryl  consistently gives over and above the call of duty, and we are lucky to have her.

Rutha Rosen, Community Support Supervisor, Adult Day Service AHRC NYC

Quote from AHRC NYC’s Local Administrator:

It has been a pleasure to work with Cheryl while in the E-badge Academy, the NADSP E-Badge Academy has provided Cheryl with the opportunity to reflect on her work and expand in her professional development.  Her dedication to the people she supports to to lead self-directed lives filled with opportunity and passion is truly an inspiration to myself and AHRC NYC! We are proud of Cheryl’s accomplishment and look forward to continuing to support her growth.

-Lindsay Murry, Program Associate and  Local Administrator of the E-Badge Academy NY Pilot from AHRC NYC.

The NADSP E-Badge Academy

The NADSP E-Badge Academy offers Direct Support Professionals (DSPs) and Frontline Supervisors (FLSs)  the ability to earn national certification through stackable electronic badges. These badges demonstrate the knowledge, skills, and values that these professionals utilize every day, recognizing the professional development that might otherwise go unacknowledged.  Through the NADSP E-Badge Academy, DSPs and FLSs are acknowledged for the experience and education that they bring to the human services field.

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