April 2016  
Consumer story:
Kayla Mitchell 'focused' on her dream
Kayla Mitchell has spent her entire life in Horseheads, but that's not where she plans to stay.

"Somewhere near a beach," Kayla says, when asked where she wants to live.

But to make her beach life a reality, Kayla knows it will take focus and commitment - something that hasn't always come easy.

Kayla grew up with a developmental disability. From her time at Gardner Road Elementary to her years at Horseheads High School, Kayla's ADHD affected her ability to concentrate. Subjects like math and English were particularly difficult.

Kayla was determined not to let her developmental disability define her, and she navigated obstacles with the support of her family and help from understanding teachers. Then, in 2013, Kayla began working with AIM.

Kayla has been involved in many AIM programs, including peer groups, social-skills trainings, work-based experiences in the community, and volunteering for AIM events.

Through AIM's community-work program, Kayla was able to secure a volunteer position at the YMCA daycare. It was there that she first discovered her passion for working with children. At the same time, Kayla was also completing a BOCES internship for early childhood studies.

Upon her graduation, Kayla followed her dreams and enrolled into the childcare program at Corning Community College.

Currently in her first year, second semester, Kayla reflected on her first semester.

"It was hard," she said. "I didn't like it at first."

Having worked hard to gain acceptance into college, Kayla found that she had to prove herself in the remedial coursework before moving on to college work.

"With the college supports from AIM's transition program, Kayla was able to push forward and stay focused on her objectives," said Kayla's caseworker, Becky Gilbert.

When asked about Kayla's future, Becky said the sky's the limit.

"Kayla had the fortitude to stay focused on her goals," Becky said. "And to accept support to help her attain them only shows her strong abilities."

Meet our staff: Darlene Hawxhurst

Q: What is your job here at AIM?
A: I  am the Community Advocate under the Independent Living Advocacy Department. I was formerly the Systems Advocate. Some folks may know me from that position.
Q: What made you want to work in this field?
A: I wanted to help people. I wanted to make a difference and foster change. I have been in the disability movement since I was 16 years old and had a lot of good mentors that taught me a lot about advocating for change and a better life for people with disabilities. The activism was passed from one generation to the next. I am following in their footsteps.
Q: What do you love about your job?
A: All the people I meet. The variety of advocacy projects.  The successes I achieve bringing and creating awareness of the issues that effect the disability community.
Q: What are some of the difficulties?
A: Change takes a long time. It takes dedication and perseverance. Many times consumers and people that I work with in the community don't always understand this. Sometimes, despite my best efforts and given what disability laws state, people are not happy with the answers or results I give them. I try not to get discouraged. Sometimes, the research I have to do on issues and topics can be boring, but it's necessary and I am good at it.
Q: What are some of your interests and hobbies outside of work?
A: I like to read books on my Nook and Kindle. I enjoy playing World of Warcraft with my significant other. I like watching movies and try to stay up to date on current events. I am on the board of my residents association where I live. I also like arts and crafts and assist in a craft class. I enjoy relaxing on my patio on nice days, and spending time with my family,  friends  and  significant other .

More donors give to AIM's golf tournament
Eight more area businesses have donated to AIM's second annual fundraising golf tournament! Thank you!

The tournament is May 1 at the Elmira Country Club. There are still openings for teams and sponsors.

Other News
Upcoming events
On April 14, we'll host Transition Night for students with disabilities -- and their parents, caregivers and service professionals -- who are preparing to transition from school to the adult world.

Our next American Sign Language I instruction program starts in May.
Highlighted service
Technology Related Assistance for Individuals with Disabilities (TRAID)

Did you know?

AIM has hundreds of pieces of assistive technology. On a temporary basis, we loan this equipment to people in the community. The loans are free.

Our entire inventory is online.
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