Stories From Main Street: Staten Island, NY
“Lifestyles is for the disabled. It’s a Day Hab program,” says Joel Richardson.
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On the grounds of the old Willowbrook State School, where Geraldo Rivera did a shocking expose in the 1970s, today, Richardson or “Soul Joel,” helps his mentally disabled clients record podcasts.
“You can see when they walk out of here that’s it’s not just having to live their dreams of being on the radio, it’s also about building them self-confidence. The guys are doing introductions where they’ll introduce ‘You know, this next song is by Led Zeppelin!’,” says Richardson. “We give them the ability to come up with DJ names.”
They spin tunes, interview one another, and do a quiz segment.
Richardson says, “Lifestyles for the Disabled teaches life skills. There’s a full service cafe, a wood shop, jewelry making operation, and pretty soon, they hope to have a live streaming internet radio station.”
“They’ve listened to radio their whole lives and now they’re getting a part of it. It gives them self a worth,” says Richardson.
Lifestyles for the Disabled is located at 930 Willowbrook Road, Building 12-G, Staten Island, NY 10314.