Kailey Sturr

Family takes next step in independence for those with disabilities

March 26, 2009 // 0 Comments

by BETH ALTENA When Beth Sturr contacted the Squire for a story about her daughter, she said she had been planning the article for 18 years. Kailey Sturr, who will be 18 in May, has Angelman Syndrome. The smiling, active girl can do many things-help with laundry, chose her own meals, give hugs. She is also non-verbal, is mentally at the level of a toddler and traditionally would either live at home her entire life or be placed in a group home. Her parents have a different vision for her. Before the Sturr family settled in Rockford, they knew they wanted their daughter to eventually live in her own home and achieve a level of independence formerly unheard of for a person with Kailey’s disability. Planning to settle in West Michigan, they called schools and visited towns. When they talked to Rockford Public Schools and the person in charge of the programs for students with disabilities, they felt what they called “such a warm welcome.” When they saw the downtown, that was the end of the search. Kailey started in the district in the pre-primary impaired program at Meadowridge Elementary and has moved all the way up through to Rockford High School, where she enjoys eating lunch with other students. “Kailey has risen to her potential in Rockford Schools,” said Beth. Now, at 18, it is time for Kailey to transition to the next phase of her life. Years ago, her parents purchased the home next to theirs on Courtland just north of Monroe. They are ready for Kailey to live in her own home. “It’s a block from Rocky’s, a block from the bike path, close to all the festivals. It’s the perfect situation for a disabled adult to be a part of,” said Sturr. Fifty years ago people with severe disabilities were routinely packed off to institutions. Parents of children with disorders such as Downs Syndrome weren’t given much in the way of options. Now group homes or living at home are common. The idea of setting up a disabled person in their own home is brand-new and cutting edge. “We have had to get creative,” said Sturr. “Getting the house was probably the easiest part.” The next piece in the puzzle¬† of […]