Young Adult Advisory Council Member Highlights
I am 21 years old and I was born with Cerebral Palsy. I am an only child and graduated from Arapahoe High School in Arapahoe, Nebraska in 2006. I stayed in school until I was 20 years old and it was hard because all my friends graduated.
Someone told me about Chip Woods House in Lincoln, Nebraska. On August 7, 2007, I moved to the Chip Woods House. It was very scary moving out of my family home but I am really glad I did. I have become really close to the seven other people that live in the Chip Woods House. They are like family.
I volunteer around 10 hours a month at the Madonna Main Hospital. I play pitch with the residents at the main hospital on Wednesdays from 1:30-3:00 pm.
I am considering going to college in the future but right now I am just getting settled and enjoying my new surroundings.
I am 28 years old and I have three brothers and wonderful family and friends. I thank God for them. I was born three months early and have Cerebral Palsy. I moved out on my own when I was 19 years old and stayed at Quality Living Inc. (QLI) for seven months. When I was 20 years old, I moved to an apartment.
I had to fight to graduate from Northwest High School in Omaha, Nebraska with my class of 1998. The school wanted me to stay in school until age 21 although I had more credits than I needed and a 3.7 GPA. I just wanted to graduate with everyone else. With the help of an angel as I call her, Ms. Rosemary Cook helped me walk across the stage with my high school class and receive my degree.
I enrolled at Metro Community College when I was 18. At that time, the college was not wheelchair friendly. There was not an automatic door to the buildings in 1998 and one snowy day 37 people passed me without holding the door open so I could get in the building of my class.
I had to avoid eating and using the restroom each day from 9 am to 5 pm because there was not anyone to help me and many areas of the campus were not accessible. The policy at the college did not allow Metro staff to help me.
I contacted Rosemary Cook because she helped me walk across the stage and graduate from high school and I thought maybe she could help me with this issue also. Ms. Cook had told me to call her if I ever needed her again. Ms. Cook has a son with disability and works at Northwest High School. Ms. Cook sits on many boards so she called the Channel 3 News Media and they did a story on me. After the story the college started to become more accessible. I was also given a caregiver who helped me with meals and took me to the restroom during the day. Happily, Metro is fully accessible now and many people with disabilities attend college there. I graduated from Metro Community College in 2006 with an associate’s certificate in Human Services.
In 2006, I began to work for AmeriCorps in their volunteer program. I also worked at JP Lord School part-time. The Omaha Star's writer Walter Brooks heard me speaking at Trumpet and Tea at the Omaha Public Schools. In January 2007, Mr. Brooks Came over to my house and to my job and wrote an article about me.
Now, I work 5-7 hours a week as a greeter at Goodwill. I would like to work full-time but it is hard to find a job.
I often encounter struggles. Doug Fox with ATP installed an electronic door in my apartment to make it easier for me to get in and out. The landlord was going to evict me because of the door but Doug intervened and I didn’t get evicted. Every day is a struggle when you have a disability!
I am 25 years old. I tried to move to out on my own after high school but ended up coming back to live with my parents. My parents felt this was the right thing to do at the time but we now realize I wasn’t ready or prepared to move out on my own. I ended up doing a lot of unhealthy things like staying up very late and eating in an unhealthy manner.
After returning to live with my parents, I began looking for a job. I started volunteering at the YMCA and they ended up offering me a job. Currently I have two jobs! I work at the YMCA for three hours a day and McDonalds 2 hours a day. I had a job coach that helped me with the job at McDonalds but I found the YMCA job on my own. I also work as a Janitor at a real estate firm and mow lawns in the summer. I love my work.
I have presented Nationally at the National Downs Syndrome Conference and I am an author of the book I used to be down, but now…I Love My Life! It is about issues I faced in growing up and how I overcame obstacles to live a fit and healthy life. I really care deeply about my body and I love to exercise.