Dreams of a career despite disability

BOSTON, Mass. (WWLP) — Many people with developmental disabilities have dreams and ambitions like Trisha Knowlton of Westfield, who despite living with fetal alcohol syndrome, hopes to one day become a veterinarian and live on her own.

“I work at Wendy’s and then I volunteer at the dog shelter in Westfield and some day I want to work with animals and be a v-tech, vet-tech,” said Trisha.

Trisha is slowly realizing that dream through the Westfield Self Advocacy Group, which helps people with developmental disabilities take control of their lives and become more independent.

“If they choose to live independently, if that’s something that they want, it is something that we provide them information, we go over pros and cons, we talk about you know the supports available to help someone do that,” said Westfield Self Advocacy Group advisor Anne Benoit.

People with disabilities and their advocates are lobbying Beacon Hill for more money to help them realize their dreams of inclusion.  Lawmakers say the economy is still in a recession, but it’s slowly improving.

“We’re hoping that there’ll be another burst of economic activity, which will help move tax revenues up again.  If we can have that happen, then we’ll be able to restore even more funding,” said Sen. Stanley Rosenberg (D-Amherst).

Advocates are asking lawmakers to spend nearly $14 million dollars on employment and day services and another $10.5 million dollars on a program called Turning 22, which supports developmentally disabled students after graduating high school.  There are more than 700 students with development disabilities who graduate high school every year who are in need of further home, family and employment services.


Copyright 2014 WWLP TV. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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