“Appreciating People as People”
Updated: Mar 11
AN INTERVIEW WITH JACQUELINE BETTIS
Jacqueline has used Sunshine School’s supportive living services, through the Arkansas Medicaid Waiver program, since May of 2014. You may remember seeing her at Over the Edge in 2017 when she raised money for Sunshine School and went rappelling over the edge of the 8W Center. We sat down with Jacqueline to hear more of her story.
Tell us about what you’ve been up to lately. I know you like to stay busy.
I’ve been debating retaking the CRC (Certified Rehabilitation Counselor) Exam so I can become certified in rehab counseling, which is what I got my masters degree in from the University of Arkansas. I actually finished my course work and graduated with the help of Waiver services five years ago, but I haven’t gotten certified yet. I’m the type of person that doesn’t like to leave things unfinished.
What do Waiver support services look like for you in your day-to-day?
Without Waiver services, I wouldn’t be able to even get out my chair to use the restroom, much less use my personal vehicle to go out and participate in community activities of my choice. I like to do a little bit of everything. I’m always into something new as long as somebody’s willing to take me. I’ll go to concerts, comedy shows, movies, bowling. I’m never the type of person that likes to do the same thing twice or I get really bored. I go to and from friends’ houses, when I’m able, to play cards and board games. I like to show people that having a disability is difficult and there are things you struggle with on a daily basis... but I can’t let it stop me from being myself.
My parents always taught me that if I wanted something in the world to go and get it. That’s how I ended up on the Medicaid Waiver Program and getting two college degrees. In May of 2019, it will be 5 years. I came to Sunshine School when I was starting my internship for the last portion of my graduate program. I try to do whatever I can with my staff to make it fun for everybody. I know they get tired because I have more energy than the average person, but I still try to make it fun and interesting, like when we paint, because I’m also an artist. I paint with a laser pointer. If we had a pallet of colors and a package of brushes I would pick the brush, tell you how to mix the colors with the appropriate brush, then you take the brush to the canvas like you’re going to actually paint on it, but you just follow the laser. So my laser is like my invisible paint brush. I’m the one creating the design but you’re the extension of my hands. I have a demo of it on YouTube if you want to see it. It’s called Art at it’s best LJ.
What’s been one of your best experiences with Sunshine School?
One of my best experiences was when I helped them with the fundraiser for Over the Edge. Not only did I raise a lot of money for helping people like myself, but I was able to go off the 6 story building. I wasn’t really scared because I have experience zip lining and rock climbing. I love thrills. I’ve actually debated going sky diving.
What do you wish people knew about individuals with unique needs or disabilities?
I wish people would understand that even though it is hard to take care of a person with a lot of physical and sometimes cognitive needs, the sacrifice that you choose to make can add to the quality life of a person. I really want people to realize that life’s about individuality and appreciating people as people. If somebody asks me about myself, I don’t always say I have CP. That’s not always the first thing that pops into my mind because it’s not the thing that defines my identity. There’s a lot more to life than just the physical aspect of a person's limitations.