A client of SLI for 29 years, John once enjoyed an independent life but now needs total care. Prior to SLI, John was living in his own home, held a job and had a girlfriend.
That was all before he had a fall that left him paralyzed.
He once worked one-on-one with children at Kansas Neurological Institute and gained a new perspective as a result.
"Providing persons with intellectual and developmental disabilities the opportunity to share themselves with the community through volunteering or work should be a priority." John said. "The general public judges individuals with disabilities too quickly, which is too bad. They need to understand who we are,"
John indicated how it hurts when people laugh or stare at him because they just don't understand.
A year ago, John's outlook brightened when SLI added keyless entry on SLI front doors. This gave John the opportunity to be independent to come and go from his home without staff assistance. He did not have the dexterity to use regular keys prior to the keyless system so he always had to have help. Even staff noted the changes in John's spirit with this addition.
"While society has come a long way regarding their knowledge about disabilities, there is still much work to be done, education to be provided and awareness to be made. At SLI we focus far less on the disability and pay close attention to the diverse abilities of each person," said Lisa Jackson, president/ CEO.
John's delight is sharing his passion for photography with the world. A prime example of his artistic eye is visible in a print of white barked trees enhanced by gentle snow, making it almost possible to feel the calm environment.
His work is admirable, but even more so considering his work is done from a motorized wheelchair and photos are captured via an adaptive device that depresses buttons on his laptop.
Photography provides him an avenue into the community which he values. His professional accomplishments include three weddings and one of his photos published in a book. A current goal for John is working with SLI to find avenues to sell his photos.
"They need to understand who we are," said John.