Sometimes the littlest things can be major barriers to independence for people with disabilities.
For Dawn Mendes, who has a severe form of Osteoarthritis in her spine, the lip on the front door step of her Taunton home was just high enough to prevent her from taking her electric wheelchair out of the house. She could no longer take walks around the neighborhood with her daughters and when no help was available, Dawn spent a lot of time inside, by herself.
As Dawn’s Osteoarthritis progressed, using her hands to paint and type became harder and harder. Being productive is incredibly important to Dawn, a 5th degree black belt, hiker, writer and artist, who was forced to end her teaching carrier after 27 years. “Having a disability can be incredibly isolating if you are not aware of the resources available to you,” Dawn noted.
Fortunately the Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission in Taunton, as well as a counselor at Independence Associates told Dawn about Easter Seals MA. And now, thanks to the Assistive Technology (AT) Program, a collaborative service provided by the Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission and Easter Seals MA, Dawn now has several items on long-term loan so she can easily exit her home, write and create on a daily basis.
The AT Program changed her life. “I am so very grateful to Easter Seals MA,” Dawn said. “Without my faith in God and Easter Seals MA, my life would have consisted of lying on the couch and I would not have the opportunity to use my gifts or go on walks with my girls.”
Dawn is currently writing several books and designing their covers thanks the computer station and software programs provided the AT Program and set up by AT Specialist Jaimie Ballon. “Jaimie has an amazingly positive attitude, she has the astounding ability to be realistic, caring and empathetic all at the same time,” Dawn said. “She is a great support system, when I worry about my ability to continue writing and being creative, she calms me down and explains that the technology available through Easter Seals MA can help me stay productive even as my condition worsens.”
Easter Seals MA not only helped Dawn start living her life again, it also made a huge difference in her daughters lives, “My girls loved to go on walks around the lake we live on,” she said, “with crutches I could barely get down my driveway, but when my ramps were installed, we began enjoy the outdoors together again. I was able to go to parent teacher meetings and be part of their lives outside of the house. Easter Seals MA not only expanded my life, but my children’s lives, too.”