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Paths to Independence

McKenzie and Jason met while participating in the Getting Ready for Opportunities in Work (G.R.O.W.) program. G.R.O.W. offers an introduction to employment for students living with disabilities aged 14-22. “Jason came in very shy and quiet. McKenzie has been all over the world and has a wealth of knowledge. For them to be friends now is a new and different experience,” says Monique Bell, Program Manager for G.R.O.W.

She Dreams of an Independent Future

Since she was born, McKenzie’s life has been a constant fight. Always by her side, her family is a source of inspiration and support.

To ensure that her daughter receives the necessary care, McKenzie’s mom, Christina, gave up her corporate career, starting a tax and consulting firm she could run from home. The sacrifices have paid off. McKenzie is now a confident young woman ready to embark on new challenges. She has beaten the odds. Doctors were pessimistic about her future, but her family never gave up and continuously pushed her to be the best she can be.

BDI has been an invaluable resource for McKenzie and her family. “Whenever we have questions about different programs offered by the state, we can reach out and find somebody at BDI who can provide information or guide us in the right direction,” says McKenzie’s dad.

Jason and His Family are Excited About the Opportunities Ahead

Jason is currently in 11th grade. He enjoys anime, playing games with his friends, and practicing martial arts. The pandemic brought unexpected challenges for him, and online schooling was something he never enjoyed. He had to switch schools twice until he finally found the necessary support at Alpharetta High School.

Turning 18 is a special occasion for another reason. It is one of the requirements for eligibility to participate in the BDI Bridge Academy, which greatly interests Jason.

Despite appearing on the surface to have little in common, Jason and McKenzie formed an instant bond during their time in G.R.O.W. They both share the hope of living independently and building a successful future as adults.

Read the full story in our Annual Report

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