Name one of the three new Staten Island Ferry boats "Bernard Carabello"
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We are asking Mayor Bill de Blasio and the Department of Transportation to name one of the three new Staten Island Ferry boats after Bernard Carabello, a pioneer in self-advocacy for people with intellectual and other developmental disabilities.
Bernard Carabello lived at the infamous Willowbrook State School, located on Staten Island, (a state-supported institution for children with intellectual disabilities, and was in operation from 1947 to 1987), from the age of 3 through his 21st birthday.
In January, 1972, reporter, Geraldo Rivera scaled the fence of the Willowbrook State School, equipped with a film camera and a key to one of the buildings that housed people with disabilities. Bernard Carabello was interviewed by Geraldo as part his expose, and the two struck up a friendship that remains strong to this day. The resulting television report further exposed the appalling living situation presented within Willowbrook, where disease transmissions were commonplace, and overcrowding had led to outright neglect of the school’s occupants, including Bernard. ”If Willowbrook is ever closed or fundamentally improved, it will be more because of Bernard Carabello then anyone else,” said Geraldo.
Later that year, a class action lawsuit filed on behalf of Willowbrook residents led to a series of important changes, including the Willowbrook Consent Decree, a judicial order signed to improve community placement for the residents of the school.
After he was released from Willowbrook, Bernard was appointed to a Consumer Advisory Board to monitor conditions at other institutions for people with disabilities. He has continued to speak up for the rights of people with disabilities in his role as an advocate for the New York State Office of People with Developmental Disabilities. Bernard was also the founder of the Self-Advocacy Association of New York State, where he continues to encourage people with disabilities to learn about their rights and opportunities and to speak up for what matters to them.
Bernard Carabello, a living piece of history, humanizes the civil rights movement in New York State and nationally for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
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