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Stories of Ohioans living with disabilities. The series grew out of a training WYSO conducted this spring with four Miami Valley disability advocacy groups: the Access Center for Independent Living, Montgomery County Board of Developmental Disabilities Services, United Rehabilitation Services, and Wright State University’s Disability Services Center. For six weeks, producers April Laissle and Anna Lurie collaborated with people with disabilities to create radio stories. Each story in our series focuses on topics participants said were most important to them.  

Just Ask: Heather and Sue Reese Define Independence

40-year-old Heather Reese and her mother, Sue, in Dayton.
Basim Blunt
40-year-old Heather Reese and her mother, Sue, in Dayton.

In this latest installment from our summer series Just Ask: Talking About Disability, WYSO's April Laissle introduces us to 40-year-old Heather Reese, who has Down syndrome, a heart defect known as mitral regurgitation, or MR, and a visual impairment. Heather leads Laissle on a tour of United Rehabilitation Services in Dayton, where she works. And we meet Heather’s mom, Sue, who also works at URS.

Some highlights from this story include:

Sue: "It was hard at first but once we saw Heather and we had her, I mean we fell in love with her instantly and she has just achieved so much."

Sue:  "We had her in a regular kindergarten class. But it was kind of sad because we had parents that fought us because they didn't want Heather, because she was handicapped, to be in a quote normal kindergarten setting. So we had some fights along the way trying to get her and to a certain school settings"

Heather: "My future is living in my own apartment. Someday I want to marry my boyfriend and uh, spend with life with him forever."

Sue: "I think my dreams for you are the first one would be to stay healthy. And to be very happy in life. I know some day you would like to have your own apartment and be more independent. Your dad and I would both like that for you. We just want your future to be really anything that you want it to be."

The series Just Ask: Talking About Disability was produced by WYSO Morning Edition Host/Reporter April Laissle and Community Voices Producer Anna Lurie, with additional stories from WYSO Managing Editor Jess Mador and All Things Considered Host/Reporter Jerry Kenney. The series was edited for broadcast by Jess Mador and WYSO General Manager Neenah Ellis, and for the web by Webmaster Juliet Fromholt and Jess Mador. Series participants included Todd Corthell, Lateef Brown, Michaela Feeser, Darrell Dean, Sue Reese, Heather Reese, Robert Sabwami, Susan Koller, and Tom Webb.