Saratoga Up until just a couple of generations ago, many people with developmental disabilities lived exclusively in institutions or hospitals. Today, it’s a much different story, thanks in no small part to the efforts of groups dedicated to giving opportunities to these individuals.
March is Developmental Disabilities Awareness month, but for groups like Saratoga Bridges, advocacy is a year-round project. Still, Bridges is using March as a way to highlight its mission.
“Our staff members are always looking for places where we can help out in the community. We’re committed to ensuring that our individuals are in the community and our goal is to have them be productive and respected,” said Bridges communications specialist Pamela Polacsek. “We have people helping in nursing homes, delivering mail for example, and at fire stations and churches doing some cleaning.”
Saratoga Bridges was founded in 1953 by parents of children with developmental disabilities who wanted them to have opportunities within the community to fulfill their goals and dreams. Today, Saratoga Bridges offers services to over 800 individuals and families, including day habilitation, employment opportunities and legislative advocacy, and presents opportunities by networking with businesses and other organizations in Saratoga County, including food pantries, Habitat for Humanity, nursing homes, fire stations and churches – to name only a few.
Raising awareness during March is only part of the Bridges mission.
“The celebration (during March) provides the ability to put a face to those with disabilities. Having a developmental disability is not a deep dark secret anymore. Those days are long gone,” said Polacsek. “We believe in our philosophy that every day is full of possibilities and to enrich each of those individuals’ lives.”
Sarah Baker is 27 years old, and she is developmentally disabled due to injuries from an automobile accident that occurred when she was 17. Before the accident, she was involved in music, taking piano and flute lessons.