Newsletter Spring 2016: How I Live Independently- Kim Watson
May 20, 2016
Editor’s Note: A version of this article appears in the Spring 2016 LIFTT Connection Newsletter. Kim’s story is first of what we hope will be a regular series in our newsletter. We hope to inspire you the reader to tell us stories of how you live independently. If you are interested in participating in the series please contact Jed Barton @ 406-294-5186 or email@example.com
How I Live Independently
Hello, my name is Kimberly Watson I am 35 years old. I was born with Spinal Bifida and Myelomeningocele. Along with all that there comes many day to day struggles, like my stuttering over words when I try to talk to someone on the phone or even in person. I had never been able to control it when I was younger in my speech therapy until I was in high school and they taught me some exercises, and now for the most part I can catch it and control it.
When I was younger I used crutches and leg braces and even wore a back brace. I never really was included in much including P.E. in grade school and as you can guess kids were not very nice to me as well. From the time I was 6 years old to 18 years old my parents got me involved in a week long summer camp for kids with disabilities, called Charles Campbell Children’s Camp outside of Red Lodge.
The week in the Beartooths every summer really brought me out of my shell and made me feel like I actually was accepted. I never wanted to come home after the week of being there. Camp helped me to not care so much about how mean the kids at home were and it helped me to deal with it better when they were. I used crutches and a wheelchair on and off from first grade to the summer before my freshman year of high school when I began using my wheelchair full-time
I would say middle school and especially high school were much easier for me. I was included in pretty much everything and my friends/classmates saw me as me and not a girl in a wheelchair. I have to also give my parents credit for pushing me to be so independent as well because it has helped me a lot. I probably would have given up the second I went permanently to the wheelchair.
After high school I went on to college at Miles Community College (MCC) in Miles City. After attending a year and a half I decided to go back home for a year because of an experience that was not good for me. I then moved here to Billings and thought about going back to college but decided a break was much needed. In 2008 I attended college at the College Of Technology now known as City College here in Billings and in 2012 decided to move on and look for a job. I now work here at LIFTT.
Becoming an adult the struggles in life have never stopped. I live alone without help but have noticed that my body is not as strong as it used to be. Transferring is much harder now and I have to go slower and be more careful because I could and have lost my balance at times and have had to call an ambulance for help back into my chair. Thankfully though I have never seriously hurt myself.
The hardest thing for me being so independent is to ask for help when I need it, or to accept the help when someone offers. My greatest accomplishments for myself have been learning to drive and live independently also attempting college because I was told once that college was probably not for me. My best advice to anyone out there is accept yourself, don’t focus on the negative, and NEVER GIVE UP!!
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Persons with any type of physical or mental impairment that significantly impacts their ability to live independently in the home and community or to maintain employment are eligible for LIFTT services. Information and referral services are available to anyone, regardless of disability status, including friends and family, the business community, and the general public.
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