Independence—Living on Your Own

Hannah and Courtney, Phase I Scholars
Photo of Phase I DO-IT Scholar Kayla holds up her arm and speaks up in a classroom, with Phase I Scholar Clarissa sitting next to her
Phase I Scholar Kayla speaks up in a Summer Study 2013 classroom session.

Leaving the nest is something all teens have to go through sooner or later. Whether they go kicking and screaming or faster than the Roadrunner, there are challenges for anyone starting life on their own—especially for kids like us. What do I mean by that? Well, I mean that we are normal people, but we happen to have disabilities. From cerebral palsy to being hard of hearing, each DO-IT Scholar has a little quirk making life a bit more interesting. Our metaphorical flight from the nest may be just a bit more exciting.

Living without parental guidance for the first time brings some invisible responsibilities and actions to light. We are finally able to comprehend how much we rely on our parents' advice, as much as we hate to admit it.

DO-IT Scholars is an experience full of realization. Things as simple as finding a seat in the cafeteria became something we had to do almost completely on our own. For visually impaired people like us, maneuvering in low-lit areas can be pretty stressful. So, it was up to us to learn our way around the cafeteria and orient ourselves to the environment.

Our parents weren't around to advocate for us, so we had to learn to speak up for ourselves and concisely explain our disability. Most people take for granted being able to read the labels over the different food options or the daily menu posted over the counter. However, being legally blind, these signs present significant challenges. The experience hasn't been easy by any stretch of imagination, but it has without a doubt been completely worthwhile.

Independence is a key element to surviving in the adult world. DO-IT allows us to have a taste of it before actually going off to college, giving us a chance to prepare for the world that lies ahead. It was an amazing and nerve-racking experience. In the long run it will assist us on the road towards college.