The 2013 Disability Awareness Award winner is 17-year-old Patrick “Pat” Breen, a 2013 Medford High School graduate.
Patrick was nominated by his sister, who had the following to say:
“I am nominating my brother because despite having autism he is a young man working to break down stereotypes and barriers while striving for equality and more independence for himself and others with both mental and physical disabilities. Last year, at 17, Pat joined a group called EPIC Empowering People for Inclusive Communities; it is a group of young adults with both physical and mental handicaps that complete community service projects and trainings in the Boston area to develop their skills, enhance leadership, and give back rather than receive the help- the side they are usually on. Pat is part of this groundbreaking program that embodies able-ism, self empowerment an self advocacy. Pat deserves to be recognized for facing adversity and helping the community in ways people never though he could or would. He is an inspiration to anyone and I am very proud.”
“Autism doesn’t change a lot. I am still able to accomplish leadership,” said Pat in his interview.
He has truly found his calling in giving back to others even though society still does not view persons with disabilities as active volunteers and community leaders.
Pat has been involved as a volunteer in numerous activities, including:
-A toy drive where over 560 toys for underprivileged kids were collected
-Food sorting at Community Servings and Boston Food Bank
-Cooking meals at a womens’ shelter
-Helping out at the Pine Street Inn
-Clearning up the Little League field in Dorchester where Martin Richard played
-Meeting with Tito Jackson at Boston City Hall regarding polling accessibility for those in wheelchairs and increasing voter registration among the disabled community
– Volunteeering at the Medford Public Library and Lawrence Memorial Hospital
Pat is pictured with his family, Medford Mayor Michael McGlynn, and Disability and Human Rights Commissioners.