Janie Desmond was nervous the first time she boarded a train in Durham headed for Greensboro. From her wheelchair, the train seemed big, loud and unfamiliar.
“I kind of wanted to convince my mom to take me to school, but I had to take the train,” Desmond said describing her freshman year UNC Greensboro. “There were a bunch of people on there that I didn’t know.”
When the train would make stops, Desmond said she was confused about what was going on.
This was one of Desmond’s first explorations away from home on her own. Over time, riding the train became no big deal. After that, she took on ordering groceries, preparing food, managing money, and other life skills.
Desmond, now 25, was diagnosed with cerebral palsy, severe visual impairment and mild intellectual disability as a child.
Many parents of North Carolinians with disabilities obtain guardianship of their children when they become adults.
But not Desmond’s parents. When she turned 18, they wanted her to live as fulfilled and independent of a life as possible.