Meet Kirsten – An Independent Woman Working Towards her Dreams

News Release
For Immediate Release: 3/16/2021

Jeff Powell, (402) 471-6223,


Celebrating Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month #DDAwareness2021

Lincoln – Kirsten is a typical 28-year-old woman living in Omaha with a job, her own apartment space, and a dream. She also happens to have Down syndrome.

When her service coordinator with the Division of Developmental Disabilities (DD) Erin Hendricks first met Kirsten about eight years ago, she noticed that Kirsten was very shy but had a brave dream of becoming a mentor to others with disabilities in Nebraska.

“She was willing to try new things to help herself grow even while she expressed the same fears anyone else would have," said Hendricks. “As an introvert myself, I found those qualities to be so inspiring."

Kirsten is now living her dream after recently being appointed by Governor Pete Ricketts to a three-year term to the Nebraska Council on Developmental Disabilities.

Her and her family were helped along the way through services provided by DD to further integrate her into her community. Services that were provided include:

  • Comprehensive Developmental Disabilities (CDD) Waiver: Helps people of all ages who have developmental disabilities maximize independence as participants live, work, and socialize in their communities.

  • Developmental Disabilities Adult Day (DDAD) Waiver: Provides help to individuals with developmental disabilities to focus on finding a job and increasing skills needed to work in the community. It also provides residential services, and assistive technology to help increase independence.

“Exceptional self-advocates like Kirsten are a great example of why community inclusion is such an important goal. Community inclusion and person-centered planning not only helps Kirsten blossom, it helps our communities blossom through acceptance and awareness," said DD Director Tony Green.

To learn more about Kirsten's story, let her tell you herself.

Community inclusion and person-centered planning ensures that strategies are developed with the person, for the person, and by the person. It is based on what the participant wants and not just what the system has to offer. It is vital to ensuring individuals are as fully integrated as possible into the community. For more information about person-centered planning, please click here.  

The purpose of Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month is to urge Americans to provide individuals with developmental disabilities the encouragement and opportunities they need to lead productive lives and to achieve their full potential.

This month allows us to celebrate the achievements towards inclusion. It is also an opportunity to remind communities of the need to ensure people who experience developmental disabilities have the same opportunities to live, work, and enjoy life as everyone else.

For more information regarding services provided by DD and to inquire if you or a loved one are eligible for services, please visit the DD website.

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