In support of the Governor’s proposed Developmental Disabilities Administration (DDA) budget, self-advocate Damian Jackson and Loyola University Maryland student Jamie Gilmore provided testimony before the House Appropriations Health & Human Services Sub-Committee. Damian and Jamie met after a disability awareness event on the Loyola campus. During this meeting, Jamie learned of the importance of the DDA funding for transitioning youth services. Below are their testimonies.
DAMIAN JACKSON’S TESTIMONY
Hi- My name is Damian Jackson.
I live in Baltimore, Maryland with my Mom, my stepfather, aunts, uncles, and my grandma. I graduated from Kennedy Krieger High School: Career and Technology Center in 2012.
I had my very first real part-time job at The Arc Baltimore as a landscaper. I helped landscape all of the light rail sites supported by the (MTA), including Patapsco, Cherry Hill, Rosedale, Westport, etc.
When I got accepted into the Project SEARCH program at The Arc Baltimore; I interned at the Curtis National Hand Center as a physician technician at MedStar Union Memorial Hospital. In 2014 I graduated from Project SEARCH and started working in the Hand Center permanently as a part-time physician technician. I also volunteer at the Cardiac Catheterization Laboratory as a unit assistant.
At the Hand Center, I assist all of the therapists with their setups and also if they are in need of in-house supplies. I also get to work directly with patients, assisting them with occupational therapy. I like when I get to socialize with some of the patients. At the Cath Lab, I assist by transporting patients to the labs and again getting their in-house supplies.
I ‘m also an artist on the side. In my spare time, I sketch some medical illustrations, cartoon characters, television network logos, celebrities and lots of long-term projects on weekends. I have sold some of my artwork.
I have had this 24-hour schedule for more than four and a half years in a row. I have high hopes for my work at Union Memorial Hospital and I appreciate that The Arc and DDA are there to support my busy life the way it is as of now.
Thank you for your time.
JAMIE GILMORE’S TESTIMONY
My name is Jamie Gilmore. I am a sophomore at Loyola University Maryland and I live on campus in Baltimore City. I am here today to briefly share with you about the impact that the Transitioning Youth funding has. I learned about Transitioning Youth funding and met someone who is proof of how important this part of the State budget is.
Last semester I took a writing class that gave me a very unique opportunity. Our class sponsored a service project that featured an awareness event on campus about developmental disabilities. And I didn’t really know much about developmental disabilities, but I got to meet and hear from people with such disabilities and I was surprised at how smart and funny they were – and how similar they are to so-called “regular” people. I also volunteered for an extra writing project.
This project entailed me and five of my classmates eating lunch with five young people with developmental disabilities. They had transitioned from school within the last 1-5 years, so they were all in their early to mid-20s. We ate pizza together and introduced ourselves and chatted. They were easy to be around, kind of excited to be visiting the Loyola campus, and happy-thrilled, actually- to talk to us about their work.
I had a chance then to meet one-on-one with Damian Jackson who is here with me today. Two years ago, Damian completed the Project SEARCH program sponsored by The Arc Baltimore at Medstar Union Memorial Hospital. He interned in several departments at the hospital and when he completed the program, he was hired by the hospital, in their renowned Curtis Hand Center.
Meeting Damian was a privilege. Hearing him talk about his work was an absolute joy. I only spent a little bit of time with Damian, but he inspired me that day, and he became my friend.
Thank you for working to keep the funds to support Transitioning Youth. I hope Damian’s story, and my story, demonstrate the true success that comes from that program.