Donna Roberts Interview
“Forty-seven years ago I gave birth to a child who was born with multiple disabilities. This was back in New Hampshire. It was before there were any laws about education or anything. And I found problems getting services for her. They wouldn't let her in school, but they would send the truant officer to my home once a month to find out why she wasn't in school,” recalls Donna Roberts in a 2013 interview. Donna lived in New Hampshire at the time of her daughter’s birth and eventually started a school for children with disabilities in New Hampshire. After Donna moved to Indiana with her family, she became the Executive Director of United Cerebral Palsy Association of Greater Indiana (UCP of Greater Indiana). In her interview, Donna discusses the beginning of the organization, services provided by UCP of Greater Indiana and the changes she has seen over the years.
"I joke with everybody that I take a day, I sit at home with a two-liter bottle of Diet Pepsi and a huge box of tissues and I read all the essays,” recounts Donna about the Attitude Essay Contest. The contest encourages elementary and middle school students to write about their own attitudes or the attitudes of others. Donna says, “I firmly believe -- and the essays prove -- kids want to focus on what is the same, what is similar, what do they have in common with somebody, not what is something that's going to put up a barrier to them.”
Looking toward the future, Donna has advice for young professionals, “they’re going to have to build that road to where we need to go. But I think it's important that they listen to the self-advocates. I think it's important that they look -- it sounds so cliche -- but look outside the box.”
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