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I was thrilled to read the story “Havens for disabled adults” (News, Jan. 23) about Josh Schur and his new roommates. Stories like the one about Josh and other adults who have lived in state facilities and now live in the community have taught us that there is a better way.
Adults with disabilities who do not have parents like the Schurs to blaze the trail to freedom must rely on those of us who now know better.
The living situation in Illinois for many people with disabilities is disheartening, to say the least.
Last year Gov. Pat Quinn announced his re-balancing initiative in an effort to give people with disabilities the chance to live their ultimate life in their own community. Since the initiative began, one state institution has closed and another is slated for closure this year.
The benefits of those people with disabilities living in the community are many. Being able to choose what you have for dinner or being able to decorate your own room may seem small to those who have always had that right; however, watching someone’s eyes light up when they describe what it was like to pick out their own bedspread and decorations makes it very clear that what we take for granted is life-changing for someone experiencing this for the first time.
For too long in Illinois, people with disabilities have been segregated in large state facilities. For many years it was because we did not know any better. We now know that there is a better way, an ultimate life for people with disabilities, a life in their community, a life that, with the support of the people of Illinois, is available to each of them.