My name is Katherine Baker, but most people call me Kathy. Feel free to do so. I live in Bellingham, WA. I have a disability called Cerebral Palsy or CP. CP is a term used to describe a collection of co-morbidities or conditions affecting body movement and mustcle coordination. It is caused by damage to one or more particular sections of the brain, usually occurring during pregnancy; before, during, or shortly after birth; or during infancy. It is caused by the defective development or damage to the motor areas in the brain; this defect disturbs the brain’s ability to control movement and posture (how well one sits or stands upright) very well. Cerebral Palsy is also known as a developmental delay and/or disability. There are no two cases of CP exactly alike. It depends on what part of the brain becomes damaged. Because of this, I have had to make use of my share of human service programs. I am very driven to do my level best to help the disabled and elderly because I understand how important it is to have an advocate that will really help as I have lived it. As a consequence, I have decided to take my personal experiences and combine them with practical knowledge. So much of the time, the needs of the disabled as well as the elderly are poorly addressed, if they are addressed at all. These are the people that I long to work with in my career. However, I do worry about letting my future clients down, but it is because I have been let down myself.
My education means a great deal to me since I was in a trial group in 1970 to see if disabled, or as I prefer to call it, physically challenged children, could manage in a regular school environment. A year later, I was enrolled in my neighborhood school full time. I was acknowledged and got along very well by my classmates and teacher, but the principal and superintendent of the Oceanside schools considered me a lot of trouble. It may have been because there had to be some accommodations made for me. However, thney completely underestimated the determination of myself and my mother who knew the new law well and saw it as my best chance for me to have a near normal life. Even though my arms and legs have never worked as well as an able-bodied person, mom always reminded me that my education was going to be essential to my future.
On a personal note, I have been with my husband for over thirty years. Barry and I have a grown daughter. I have a deep love for dogs and cats and think of them as my other children. They are always so eager and happy to see me – a wonderful example of unconditional love and acceptance. My pets include two dogs and a cat.
On June 18th, I had one of the most fulfilling personal experiences that I have ever had outside of being a proud wife and mother. I have been attending City University for nearly five years, and I was able to participate fully in my graduation ceremony. This meant that I was able to use ramps that were already in place.; I could roll up onto the stage and receive my Bachelors in Human Services and shake the President of the University’s hand. In fact, I led the precession of 500 students into and out of the arena. It was one of the few times in my life that I was treated the same as everyone else – no special accommodation was required. My high school experience was very different. I did not march with my friends. I had to wait at the bottom in my chair while everyone else walked up to the stage. My chosen photo was taken immediately after the graduation ceremony. I will also share my journey into the career world as a woman with a disability,
I hope to be a blessing to all who see and read my blog as it comes from the heart!