Lydia is 20 years old and loves to give back to her community. She volunteers regularly
at the Missouri Disability Empowerment Foundation (MoDE) , is on the City of Columbia’s Disability Commission, is a new board member to Local Motion (formally known as PedNet), and is a member of Children’s Grove organization. Her passion for helping others at a young age is only one of the many things that make her so impressive. Lydia is fully blind and partially deaf – she identifies as Deafblind, though she has a hearing aid and can communicate verbally without too much issue.
Lydia has had to continually fight for her rights and self-advocate to receive the services she needs. She is currently working hard to get professional training to prepare her to go to college and pursue a career.
Lydia said, “The biggest obstacles, kind of ongoing, are a lot of people don’t understand my special needs. I find that a lot of time getting support and services that I need is really difficult. I have overcome some obstacles by being an advocate for myself and reaching out to people, like Tory, to help advocate for my needs.”
Lydia’s Support Coordinator, Tory, is continually impressed by her perseverance to overcome any barriers in her way.
“Lydia is incredibly bright and kind and I’m excited to see what her future brings,” said Tory. “She’s currently trying to get training at Rehab Services for the Blind in Jeff City and the Helen Keller National Center in New York for life skills training and college preparatory training.”
Lydia said, “One of my big goals is to go to Missouri State University and probably start out with some General Ed classes and just explore career opportunities. I’ve thought about some different angles like law, or working with animals.”
She has always had a deep connection with animals and enjoys her time at Cedar Creek Therapeutic Riding Center which was funded by BCFR. Her other hobbies include baseball, weight training, and swimming.
Lydia said, “I’ve worked with a lot of caseworkers and they’ve been great, but Tory truly goes above and beyond. She really shows a lot of empathy through the good times, and bad. She is always willing to help however she can.”
Tory has also helped advocate to get the technology she needs in daily living which was essential during the pandemic.
When Lydia thinks about the steps she needs to take to reach her goals, she says,
“It takes a lot of initiative on my end, doing what I can, being proactive.”
And she wants to help others along the way. She believes, “Being patient with people and willing to educate them is helpful with overcoming obstacles.”