WXXI AM News

Karen Shakerdge

Reporter/Producer - Health

Karen Shakerdge covers health for WXXI News. She has spent the past decade asking people questions about their lives, as a documentary film producer, oral historian and now radio reporter.

Karen spent months producing Exited, a podcast about young people with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities navigating life after high school, which she developed with colleagues at NPR’s Story Lab.  

Karen has a bachelor's degree in cultural studies and media studies from The New School and a master's degree from the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism.

In 2016, the Association of Health Care Journalists recognized her story about liver transplantation with an Award for Excellence in Health Care Journalism. Her two-part story about donor breast milk banks received an Outstanding Public Affairs Program award from the New York State Broadcasters Association in 2017. 

Ways to Connect

Denise Young/WXXI

One day, Rebecca Shriver was at work, helping an elderly patient get to the bathroom, when the patient became unsteady.

“If I didn’t put my leg out and try to catch her, she would’ve cracked her head on the wall,” Shriver recalled.

Shriver was a certified nursing assistant at the time, in Buffalo, New York. She had twisted her knee a few months earlier, and that day – as she tried to keep her patient from falling – things took a turn for the worse.

“We both fell and that resulted in the disease I have now,” Shriver said.

Even though ovarian cancer is the fifth most common cause of cancer-related death for women, a national task force upholds its recommendation against screening for it. That’s because the screening methods available create more problems than solutions, according to the statement.

Screening often leads to additional, unnecessary interventions — more often than finding cancer, says Dr. Jennifer Brown Broderick, a gynecologic oncologist with Rochester Regional Health.

Malinda Ruit/WXXI News

People like Jonathan Jackson tend to have an entourage. An entourage can consist of professionals and family members who support someone with disabilities in all kinds of ways.

Often, family members do the bulk of caregiving, and as children grow up, questions arise: What will adulthood look like for them? Who will lead their future entourage? 

Veronica Volk/WXXI News

When Akin Johnson was nearing the end of high school, he was clear about what he wanted to do next. He wanted to get a job.

In recent years, there has been a push to get people with disabilities into the general workforce. But despite these initiatives, some students like Akin who aspire to work are running into a problem. They’re being told they’re not independent enough to make it in a work environment.

Malinda Ruit/WXXI News

Sheltered workshops, where many people with disabilities go to work, have been around for decades.

But they’re controversial for a few reasons: They’re usually segregated, and most workers earn less than minimum wage because they’re paid based on how many things they produce.

Sheltered workshops are changing now, though. Some are being phased out, and some are integrating into more traditional businesses — whether people who are working in them like it or not.

People have been asking about the name of this podcast.

Reporter Karen Shakerdge talked to lots of people for this series; listen to how some of them describe what "Exited" means.

Also, stay tuned afterward for a preview of the third episode.

Karen Shakerdge/WXXI News

Going to college can be a key experience in a young person's life, leading to friendships, personal growth, a degree — and, of course, future employment.

The number of college-based programs for students with intellectual disabilities is growing across the country, and they often provide many of those benefits — except for a traditional degree. In the second episode of Exited, meet three young people as they leave college experiences for the real world.

Karen Shakerdge/WXXI News

In the first episode of Exited, explore an early factor in transition – graduation tracks – through the experience of 17-year-old Nate, a student who doesn’t quite fit on any one track.

High school plays a huge part in determining what happens next in a young person's life. And for students like Nate, it can get even more complicated.

Leaving the world of adolescence and entering the adult world — the real world — can be a confusing time for anyone.

But for young people with disabilities, it can feel like arriving at a cliff as they leave behind the cocoon of school and sometimes struggle to find a place where they belong.

Exited, launching Nov. 13, is a podcast that will bring you the stories of eight young people, ranging in age from 17 to 26, as they navigate transitions in various settings – high school, higher education, sheltered workshops, day programs and home life. 

Empire State Development

Holy Childhood, the non-profit, non-denominational organization  based in Henrietta that helps people who have intellectual and developmental disabilities, has officially opened its expanded bakery operation.

It’s called ‘Special Touch Bakery,‘ and the 20,000 foot facility is located on Mount Read Blvd. It provides employment and training for people with disabilities as well as produces pies, which it has been serving in Rochester for decades.

Now, with the help of Palmer Food Services, Holy Childhood has plans to eventually distribute to more than 25 states.

Pages