Image of a female using a wheelchair

Interview with Kimora

An Interview with Kimora in May 2023

Kimora started in Independent Living Inc.’s Learning Enrichment After Program (LEAP)when she was 12. LEAP provided her with friendships, a social life and wonderful staff to help her thrive. The program gave her something to do after school instead of going home and feeling bored. Kimora describes herself as being very shy; she began to open up and communicate more with others when surrounding herself with people who she felt could understand her. This caused Kimora to no longer be lonely. She built friendships that have lasted more than 12 years and will continue to last a lifetime. Now, Kimora loves to help others, she is outgoing, and likes to go to the park or the mall with family and friends.

When Kimora became an adult, she entered into the Community Independence Program(CIP), a program for adults with developmental disabilities. In this program, Kimora lovesgoing out into the community and meeting new people. The opportunity to volunteer is oneof her favorite things to do. Kimora’s favorite community activities include home delivery,visiting the Giving Tree Café, and going to the movie theater with CIP staff and friends.

Kimora feels that talking to friends and staff in LEAP and CIP, and participating in all of the group activities, gave her more confidence and the ability to start thinking about employment. Ms. Shawenicwa Atkinson, her job coach through Independent Living, worked very hard to get her a job to her liking. Kimora believes if it was not for the diligence, patience and determination of her job coach, she would not be working today.

Kimora’s favorite experience was on March 10, 2022; she had her first interview for a job at Marshalls. It was so great because it was in-person.
Working at Marshalls and being the first employee hired who uses a wheelchair felt great. Kimora feels she is paving the way for others to work there as well. The corporate office made an accommodation to the front entrance of the store because of Kimora’s self-advocacy; it was rocky and the concrete was bumpy and cracked. They informed their Safety Department. The entrance is now smooth and accessible for anyone with a wheelchair. Kimora said that it means so much to her for them to have made the store accessible because, not only does it make a difference to her, but everyone like her.

Growing up Kimora ‘s peers, schools, and some extended family believed Kimora could not accomplish her dream of working but, low and behold, this dream is a reality. Kimora smiles, has a great personality because she believes she can do anything, and stays positive through the good and bad times. Kimora thanks her mom, her job coach and support staff for helping her keep a good attitude.

Kimora believes in supporting Independent Living, Inc. because, “they are giving back and this is just amazing.” The breakfast means a lot because, “I feel loved and people truly care about me.”