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Utica support group hosts inclusive event for disabled community

A trip to the mall or a community event is something some of us may take for granted. Parents of kids who have disabilities say those simple visits are not so simple for their families. Now, there are efforts in the Mohawk Vallet to give people of all ages who have disabilities a fun, judgement-free place to hang out at.

Kathy Caruso is the support group leader of Better Together, a support group for parents and loved ones of people who have disabilities. Better Together held their first community event in October.

What You Need To Know

  • Better Together is a support group for parents or loved ones of people who have disabilities
  • Better Together recently hosted their first event, providing a fun space for people with disabilities to relax and be themselves
  • Parents say they’re grateful for the efforts of Better Together

“We wanted to provide a space where individuals with disabilities could come, and they could feel a sense of belonging, of love, community, and a place where they could just be them,” Caruso said.

Caruso knows firsthand what it’s like to be a parent of a child with a disability.

“My son is 27-years-old and he’s fought a rough battle with autism all of his life,” Caruso said. “A place like this where he can come and just feel loved, and the great community here at Redeemer, that’s what it’s all about.”

She hopes to grow that community feeling, and it seems to be working.

“It’s cool,” said Isaiah Brink of Sauquoit.

“There’s always rough times in parenting, but special needs parenting is exceptional because there is that element of when you’re out in public being judged or people looking at you funny or they just don’t understand. This atmosphere, everybody here understands and everybody is welcome,” said Isaiah’s mother, Rebekah.

Better Together’s first event offered more than just food and fun, but also resources and education.

“The sheriff has developed this amazing program called, ‘The Yellow Dot Initiative’, where first responders, whether they’re called to the scene of an accident or to a home, they look for a yellow dot. The yellow dot lets first responders know that there’s somebody in the house that has a non-communicative disability,” Caruso said.

Caruso hopes this event is the first of many, and wants to work with partners to have more fun events in the future.

For more information about Better Together, visit its Facebook page. You can also email kathyjocaruso@gmail.com.

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