Those of us in the field of intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) work hard to ensure those we serve have “lives like everyone else” in terms of where people live, work, socialize, have fun, hang out, and in general go about their daily routines. Supporting persons to have lives like everyone else is considered best practice in the field of IDD, and these best practices have been expressed in federal and state policies, national accreditation standards, and evidenced based practices.
The bar has been set high. And so it is with just a bit of irony that an individual who uses a wheelchair has been able to soar far above this bar, clearing it with room to spare.
Quentin Miller, or “Q” as he is known, is THE definitive role model for an individual with IDD living a life like everyone else, so much so that it is difficult to figure out where to start in describing all the ways he is able to do this. Here is a quick summary…
- He worked for eight years as a paid camp counselor at Wonderland Camp
- He lives in his own house
- He directs his own supports
- He volunteers at the Twin Pike YMCA
- He has spoken at area civic clubs
- And, oh yes, he was named the State of Missouri Mental Health Champion with the Missouri Mental Health Foundation in 2014!
“When I got the phone call that I had won the award, I almost hung up; I thought it was a prank”, Quentin says of winning the Mental Health Champion award. “I honestly had no idea that I had even been nominated”.
Personal accomplishments aside, what lies at the heart of Quentin’s living a “normal” life is his extensive network of friendships. Quentin’s network of friendships transcends what is typical for others with IDD, who unfortunately often struggle in forming relationships with others outside of their peers with developmental disabilities. Quentin has managed to form meaningful relationships with other individuals who do not have developmental disabilities, friendships interwoven within the fabric of the larger community. Such friendships within the fabric of community life have been woven not with needle and thread, but rather participation and contribution; throughout the course of his life, Quentin has been a participating and contributing member of the Bowling Green and Pike County area, and this has resulted in his forming several meaningful friendships over the years.
This doesn’t mean that he doesn’t have friendships with staff, though… take his friend John, for instance. John has been supporting Quentin with the Pike County Agency for Developmental Disabilities for a while now, and when they first met, their relationship was a formal one of “person supported” and “support staff”. Now, though, they are good buddies. “He likes helping people” John says, and goes on to mention that Q “knows everyone in Bowling Green, I think.” Of their friendship, John says, “he’s more than a client. He talks to me when I have problems. We like the same music and just like to have a good time together.” John and Quentin do many things in the community, such as shopping, eating out, listening to music, taking rides outside, and meeting people.
Quentin is a 2000 graduate of Bowling Green High School. When asked what he is most proud of in his extensive resume of accomplishments, Quentin surprisingly says it is simply “being able to get up and do what I want to do for that day”.
If that’s not living life like everyone else, what is?!