'Life My Way' shares personal disability stories

January 4, 2010 8:00:55 AM PST
Hundreds of Illinois residents with developmental disabilities are being recruited to share their personal stories for a unique public awareness campaign. Twenty-three-year-old Bridget Brown's story is part of the Life My Way campaign.

"I have an internship working with the pediatric clinic with children, health care. Kind of like a health care, but it's like health educator," Brown said. "I teach kids how to brush their teeth and eat the right things, and when you see the dentist, how many times, and I also assist the students here with patients."

Brown has been working at the University of Illinois-Chicago's pediatric dental clinic for almost three years.

"I love it, because I love working here," said Brown.

Life My Way is a statewide program created by the Illinois Council on Developmental Disabilities

"We really want to provide a medium to empower people to make their voice heard and to have their voice heard, because quite often this community has not had the opportunity for their stories to get up and be heard," said Brooke Anderson, the program's organizer.

"We just launched Life My Way in September," Anderson said. "It's a three-year project...In the future months ahead we're going to be traveling around the state interviewing people and asking them for their stories and share a little bit about themselves."

Bridget wants society to understand that people with disabilities have the same goals everyone.

"It's important for people to have jobs, just like me, because it's important for disabilities to get paid, said Brown.

A public awareness program like this is essential, says mom Nancy.

"I think the Life My Way is way to show people's real lives to the world," she said.

"My message for Life My Way is to let people know that I do not suffer from Down syndrome, but I think it's important for people to hear their thoughts and dreams through Life My Way because they all have something to say," said Bridget.

If you are a person with a disability living in Illinois, and have a story to share, go to www.lifemyway.org.