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Shampang honored for disability advocacy

LEWIS A traumatic brain injury survivor who advocates for disabled individuals in the North Country was honored last week in the New York State Senate. Sandra Shampang of Lewis was recognized by Senator Betty Little (R,C,I-Queensbury) with the New York State Senate Achievers' Award during a Disabilities Awareness Day ceremony in Albany. Sandra is a go-getter with a big heart who is making a difference in the lives of many people in the North Country, said Little. It is my honor to present Sandra with the Achievers' Award. I am pleased to have the chance to recognize and publicly thank her for her important work. Her story is inspirational, providing others facing unique challenges with strength and courage to strive harder and succeed. I feel very honored to receive this award, said Shampang. I want to thank Andrew Pulrang for nominating me. We have a great team at NCCI. There are many people I work with who are also very deserving of this recognition. On their behalf, it is a privilege to the recipient of the Senate Achievers Award. Shampang had been a successful business owner and administrator of a rural health care clinic before a serious car accident in October 1996 resulted in a traumatic brain injury. She spent six years in recovery fighting to regain her independence. With the help of doctors, therapists, and peer counseling from the North Country Center for Independence (NCCI), Shampang relearned basic skills and then steadily progressed. In November 2001, she was hired by NCCI as an outreach peer counselor for Essex County. In this position, she not only used her natural empathy and knowledge of human services in the North Country, but also her personal perspective as a person who had adjusted, and continues to adjust, to living with a disability. Today, Sandra Shampang is a full-time employee of NCCI. Her work includes benefits advisement, providing advice and education to people with disabilities who are considering pursuing paid employment. And she is a co-developer and presenter of the Independent Living Academy, a 10-week independent living skills training course for people with disabilities. The goal of Shampang's work is to encourage people with disabilities to strive for employment by helping them make a smooth transition to financial self-sufficiency. As with so many people who have a traumatic brain injury, Shampang's impairments are no less real for being invisible. She learned to adapt and, in turn, has helped others adapt to their disabilities.

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