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‘All of us belong’


Chris Wells has found acceptance, purpose as a DSP.


One of Chris Wells’ signature moves at work is coming up with secret handshakes with the people he works with.

As a direct support professional (or DSP), supporting people with developmental disabilities, those little moments help him look forward to coming to work every day.

“I’ve grown with these clients and they’ve helped me learn patience and helped me learn to take time to understand and it’s been really rewarding,” he said.

Chris, who lives in Heath, has been working as a DSP at CSS for about a year. He spends his days helping the people he supports cook meals, exercise and try new things.

“I try to preach to them that they have rights just like we have rights. They belong just like all of us belong,” he said.

Chris grew up in Madison, Wisconsin and attended college there to study social work. He had two internships that changed his life.

The first was at the Boys and Girls Club, where he was able to be a mentor that the children could look up to.

“I saw a different perspective,” he said. “These kids lean on us to teach them things but little do they know, they teach us things too.”

He also interned at a senior services agency, which made him think about the things he wanted to accomplish in the future.

“Hearing the stories those people would tell me, it put a light on the idea that, as a young person, it’s important to enjoy your life — there is so much out there for you to do.”

These two experiences were on his mind when he moved to Ohio and got a job at CSS.

The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted a lot of routines for the people he supports, so Chris has done his best to be understanding and put them at ease. That’s helped him build some very strong friendships.

Throughout his life Chris has been in situations where he’s been judged for his tattoos or his physical appearance. But it hasn’t been like that with the people he supports.

“It’s all love and they really care about me and appreciate me,” he said. “They see the heart, they don’t see what’s on the outside and that’s the biggest highlight for me.”

No matter what he does in the future, being a DSP has forever changed the course of his life, Chris said.

If young people are looking to make a difference, being a DSP will get them there, he said.

“I don’t want to end my life not having the experience of helping someone and helping the community,” he said. “People should really strongly think about what they have done in their lives besides earn money. They should definitely challenge themselves and understand this is a good experience.”

For more information about how to become a DSP, go to DSPcareers.com.

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