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Milton Hershey School Hosts First Responder Training Focused on Communicating with Individuals with Disabilities

Since 1909, Milton Hershey School has been on the forefront of ensuring its campus is safe for students, employees, and visitors. From achieving national accreditations to upgrading technology to integrating meaningful instruction for staff, the MHS Campus Safety department continues to be a leader within the community and beyond.

Last month, the department hosted a regional training for first responders to help them more effectively communicate with people who have intellectual and developmental disabilities. The program, held at Purcell Friendship Hall, included training on how to identify a disability, communication techniques that can be used, crisis control strategies, and more. More than 70 first responders from as far away as New Jersey and Maryland came to MHS to expand their knowledge in this area and hear from Steve Slack, an ambassador with the National Down Syndrome Society (NDSS).

Sara Nye, Ambassador for the National Down Syndrome Society stands with her mother at Milton Hershey School

Over his career, Slack has presented nationally to key community stakeholders on how to best engage with the disability community. As a thought leader on disability issues, Slack is a development team member and instructor with West Virginia University’s first non-degree collegiate program for students with disabilities.

“As a Campus Safety department, we feel this training is critical because too often first responders misunderstand the signs of individuals with disabilities. Training opportunities such as this provide us the opportunity to understand how our Campus Safety team can better communicate and interact with individuals who have intellectual and developmental disabilities,” shared Rick Gilbert, MHS Senior Director of Campus Safety.

The event also included tips and training from Sara Nye, an ambassador for NDSS who often speaks about her experiences with Down’s Syndrome. Nye is from Hummelstown, Pennsylvania, and “her message really brought home the importance of this training,” said Slack

Milton Hershey School's Senior Director of Campus Safety stands with Steve Slack

Added Gilbert: “As we strive to ensure we are appropriately educated in this important area, we are also fortunate to have the resources that allow us to include the surrounding community in these trainings.”

Milton Hershey School does not discriminate in admissions or other programs and services on the basis of race, color, national or ethnic origin, ancestry, sex, religious creed or disability. Read important MHS policies on equal opportunity and diversity, equal employment opportunity, and more.