Building “Deep” connections through the arts

Picture of newsletter articleThis profile first appeared in the March edition of The Providers’ Council newsletter. The full text has been provided below.

If you walked into any Partners for Youth with Disabilities (PYD) event over the last 15 years, you would have noticed three constants: kids of all different abilities, smiles galore, and Deep Chinappa in the center of it all.

Deep has been working at PYD since 2001 as the coordinator of two youth programs: Access to Theatre (ATT) and Making Healthy Connections (MHC). Over the years, he’s ensured that ATT’s theater arts workshops and summer camp go off without a hitch, providing musical accompaniment and mentorship to all attendees. He’s facilitated all MHC youth group meetings, providing participants with empowering guest speakers, adaptive activities, and even an inclusive camping trip or two.

“Deep Chinappa has a unique ability to bring together youth with diverse disabilities to work as a team, support each other, and make great strides toward reaching their goals,” says Susan Nicastro, PYD’s Deputy Director. “Deep’s ongoing dedication has contributed to the success of hundreds of PYD youth participants.”

Humble about his work, Deep brings enormous empathy to all his interactions.“As a social worker, I’ve learned to humbly accept and make a difference for people with disabilities with a non-judgmental approach.” His personal experience as an immigrant and a person from a minority culture gives him a special sensitivity when working with families from underserved backgrounds.

“It was on a Wednesday morning in early October that I was first introduced to Deep,” said Tyler, a longtime PYD youth participant, “Though extremely apprehensive, I was talked into attending my first MHC meeting later that month. I grew much more confident and prepared thanks to these experiences; I began to believe that I could pursue any challenge that came my way.”

Deep has extensive experience in the disability field, and has worked as a director of a residential program for individuals with severe multiple disabilities. He received a Bachelor’s degree from St. Joseph’s College of Arts and Science in Bangalore, India, and he is an accomplished professional musician that has recorded four albums and performed in numerous venues in both India and the United States.

In the words of Regina Snowden, PYD’s Executive Director: “Deep’s talent for social work and human services is an innate gift. No education can teach his ability to inspire youth of all abilities to reach their higher goals, or his unwavering passion to serve.”

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