Nichole Hasting's Story

My name is Nichole M. Hastings. I have cerebral palsy and use a power wheelchair. I have lived at home throughout my life with my parents and one brother. My mother was my advocate until eighth grade. My home school could not provide for me so my parents found a program out of the district that was better suited to my needs. I had full accessiblity and was able to participate in all activities rather than being confined to the first floor of my previous school.

In my senior year I was told by the superintendent and the school board that I could not take a trip with my senior classmates because the bus did not have a wheelchair lift. I was told that I would have to find my own transportation. This is when my self-advocacy efforts began. My family and I hired an attorney. A statement was issued to the school that I was to attend the trip or there would be a lawsuit. The advocacy effort really worked and I was finally allowed to take the trip.

I graduated in 2002 and in the fall of 2002 I joined the Arise Madison County Project. I went to Cazenovia College for one year and then decided to volunter for Arise to help with their Self-Advocacy work. I went to various locations and meetings promoting accessibility. I also began volunteering for AmeriCorps. I really enjoyed the experience. The day before I turned 20 years of age, I moved out of my parents' home. I moved into my grandmother's house so that I could feel a little more freedom and learned what it's like to be independent. With my move, I was responsible for hiring my own personal assistants through a new program called the Consumer Directed Personal Assistance Program. I learned how to hire, train, supervise, and, if need be, dismiss my personal attendant. I learned that this was sometimes very difficult, but it was also very challenging and rewarding.

I am now in Self-Determination, which is a program that allows me to have even more control over my services and supports. I now have changed from volunteering for AmeriCorps to actually working for them. AmeriCorps is a national program that the New York State Self-Advocacy Association participates in. I have been able to go out and speak to a number of groups in the community. I have been able to share my personal story with the public so that people will have a better understanding of people with disabilities and how they want to be treated. I have also had the privilege of being the narrator of "The Power of Our Voices" video that was created by self-advocates. I also received the Volunteer of the Year Award, presented by Governor George Pataki, in 2004.

I am now living in my own apartment. I have a van and I am supervising and directing my own assistants. I have learned a lot by being involved with self-advocacy and have learned that I can advocate for myself. Self-advocacy is the way to go!



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