You’re With Us! is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization and a Department of Developmental Services (DDS) service provider that creates inclusion opportunities for young adults with disabilities. The program identifies and trains college clubs, groups, and teams to welcome individuals with disabilities into their groups as they are. You’re With Us! believes that a meaningful life includes a home, a job, family, friends and social opportunities with their peers - able and otherwise.
"Most recently, through Pete’s (Nick's mentor) enthusiasm and advocacy, Nick has been able to audit the Perspective on a Coaching course at SSU! Of course, Nick is thrilled to be in a typical college class, learning about a topic he is passionate about with some of his peers from the baseball team! Pete’s instinct that Coach Passinari would be a good instructional match for Nick was spot on. Not only is Nick learning new things about coaching, he is a truly motivated learner with this motivation spilling over into other areas."
“YWU! is an easy way to change lives through inclusion. It blows my mind how separated people who have disabilities are from the general population. Sports have always introduced me to some of my favorite and closest friends – why not open that door to someone else whom would really benefit from it?”
“I think the YWU! program is a great learning experience for both my mentee Nick and I. I think it’s expanding both of our worlds for the better. I plan on keeping in touch with Nick and the program out of season. We have a routine of getting lunch every Tuesday.”
You’re With Us! is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization and Department of Developmental Services (DDS) service provider that creates inclusion opportunities for young adults (18+) who, because of their disabilities, are not part of a group, community or activity that would be typical of their abled peers.
People with disabilities often feel different and excluded from normal social opportunities. You’re With Us! aids these young adults in belonging to a group and receiving the benefits young people would typically receive from inclusive opportunities. Benefits of this inclusion flow in both directions. People with disabilities have the potential to influence those around them -- a special ability to open people up to compassion, empathy, and leadership. Further, You’re With Us! seeks to change the perceptions of disabled young people who believe they are separate and excluded by helping them become part of the communities centered on the activities that they enjoy. In turn, their new peers in these communities, who may have thought of children with disabilities as different, now find them to be friends, teammates, and even family.
All people are healthiest when they feel safe, supported, and connected to others in their neighborhoods and communities. The inclusion of people with disabilities in these communities provides the essential social skills and leadership tools to allow them to lead a full life.
You’re With Us! creates inclusion opportunities for young adults with disabilities. The program identifies and trains college clubs, groups, and teams to be welcoming and supportive peers to the differently abled. The college group then creates a Positive Experience Design (PED) customized for the young adult to help him or her transition from school to an adult life in the community. You’re With Us! believes that a meaningful life includes a home, a job, family, friends and social opportunities with their peers - able and otherwise.
History: Like every new dad, as I held my newborn son I dreamed of teaching him to play catch, shoot a basketball, and ride his first bicycle. But Max was different. A premature twin, I could not hold him for months, and when I did he fit in my two hands.
January 3, 2000 A few months later, as a first-time head men’s basketball coach at Salve Regina University, I was readying my team for practice. Minutes before we were to start, I found out my son Max had been diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy. Max was nine months old and I was five months into my head coaching career. Standing before a group of fit and able-bodied young men, I started my usual practice warm-up address. But that day was different. As I began, I informed my team of Max’s diagnosis. And I began to cry. Many players began to tear up with me. After a couple of minutes, I told them we needed to have a good practice because Max would never have a chance to have a good practice. Max became an inspiration to my teams for the next six years. The players viewed Max as their teammate. He is present in every championship photo because the players insisted he be. When I left coaching – and for the eight years that followed –Max had no opportunities to be included in groups of able-bodied people. He withdrew and his physical condition worsened. That changed in 2013 when Max was welcomed onto the Northeastern University’s men’s basketball team. A new group of players welcomed him as their teammate. I had my son back. His life changed – and so did theirs.
It has been said a person's quality of life is directly linked to the quality of the relationships in their life. You’re With Us! provides adolescents/young adults with the unique opportunity to belong to a group--just like any person would or could--- and derive the typical benefits people receive from out-of-school activities. In addition, our participants have the unique ability to profoundly affect those around them. By being included in their groups, our participants open up college students---and college campuses---to compassion and empathy, and provide them with leadership opportunities that would otherwise not be available. In essence, our framework enables our participants and peer mentors to “practice together” in the non-disabled community, which is the setting where they will be expected to function and thrive for the balance of their lives.
We locate possible opportunities to join college groups, teams, and clubs; coordinate recruitment into the group; act as the liaison between the family, school, and college/university; train mentors of the college groups to be responsible for making sure participants are included and connected with the group, facilitate communication between all parties; facilitate group education and development of Positive Experience Design; gather data on impact and quality of life; create and coordinate social connections across campus for participants and families; facilitate possible job/career opportunities through college career resources; offer support services as needed (ABA, BCBA, Monitor); create systems and manuals for future schools; and generally problem solve.
Our board is committed to helping people with disabilities have a life in the community which includes a sense of belonging to a group. We have leaders in the youth development and special needs transition space helping coach our participants, families and college students to successful outcomes.
Founder/President You’re With Us!
President Infusion Ventures
Non-profit development professional
Clinical research coordinator at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute
NFL Player Agent, Author of No Backing Down
Executive Director at Alliance of Massachusetts YMCAs.
Executive Director The Center for the Study of Sport in Society at Northeastern University
Attorney Zingaro and Cretella
Former Director of Pupil Services Town of Winthrop, Member Massachusetts Executive Council of Special Education
Please contact us at the information below. Also, please register a young adult you may know who would benefit from being part of a group. Allow us to help him or her find his or her sense of belonging.