Paul Shankland Interview
In 1964, Paul decided to interview at the Fort Wayne State School as a recreation aide. They had football and baseball games, dances, and a summer camp. Although these activities were fun, the experience was different in retrospect. The daily living of getting up, bathing, eating, and going to bed was very regimented. Life was miserable for the residents. Paul saw a lot of mistreatment of residents during his eight years at (the renamed) Fort Wayne State Hospital and Training Center.
After leaving the hospital, Paul worked at the Division on Mental Retardation and Department of Mental Health. Part of his job was to bring new ideas to the disability field. He helped introduce group homes to Indiana in the 1970s. In developing regulations for group home operations, Paul and colleagues were concerned the institutional model would be adopted by the group homes. Paul states, “A lot of that proved true – and it was again people with good intentions, or at least they thought they had good intentions.”
Paul discusses initiatives funded by the Indiana Governor’s Council for People with Disabilities. He believes the most important project the Council ever funded was Partners in Policymaking. The program brings together people with disabilities and family members for eight weekends over the course of a year to develop leadership skills. He explains how the Council evolved when Suellen Jackson-Boner became the administrator.
When asked to identify the biggest changes in the disability field over his 30 plus years, Paul stated the closing of the institutions. In addition, Paul shares his observations on community attitude changes. Paul retired from the Indiana Governor’s Council for People with Disabilities around 2009. He was interviewed in 2013.
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