Self-advocate Amelia Booker of Fort Collins, Colo., studies music at Berkshire Hills Music Academy in South Hadley, Mass.
By Amelia Booker
I joined People First in 2010 to interact and hang out with young adults in the group. I was secretary but had to step down to take the opportunity to attend school in Massachusetts last fall.
We have 40 members in our chapter in Larimer County, Colo. Our adviser is Lisa Cerino, program coordinator for The Arc of Larimer County.
I have made new friends and learned a lot. I feel good about the things we have done. I have gained work skills by being secretary, as well.
Being a self-advocate means I know I am a person who is unique and to speak up for myself and others. Disabilities are not as important as the people we are.
In our People First chapter, we have worked on increasing access to voter registration for people with disabilities and helping others become more aware of the talents of people with disabilities. We have also worked on personal boundaries to protect ourselves and on transportation issues.
We raise money in a variety of ways. I performed music at the art auction by playing my guitar and singing. I played some songs I wrote.
I also made a craft with yarn for the auction. We have done a bake sale, and I helped with a fundraiser called Chuck-a-Puck, where we help sell hockey pucks that people throw for halftime contests at Colorado Eagles games.
I also keep busy at home by taking music lessons, working, hanging out with my friends, working out and People First activities.
I was born in Seoul, South Korea, on May 8, 1990, and came to the United States the following September when I was four months old on what I call the “big silver stork!” My parents are Robert and Deborah Booker.
My middle name is Mee Yun, which is the Korean name I was given. It means beautiful shining. I have no siblings, but I think of my dear friend, Shannon Lehnbeuter, as a sister. Shannon was my nanny when I was 7, and we have been close ever since. Shannon’s 3-year-old son, Wesley, calls me Nana. They also live in Fort Collins, and I see them frequently when I am home.
I attended Clayton High School in St. Louis, Mo., for ninth grade and Poudre High School in Fort Collins 10th through 12th grades. I graduated from high school in 2009 and received a diploma in 2011 after completing two transition programs administered by Poudre High School. Actual work practice is gained through three 10-week unpaid internships at different venues with Columbine Health Systems.
A positive contribution
I am a student at Berkshire Hills Music Academy in South Hadley, Mass. Their mission is “to educate, train and develop the talents of young adults with special learning needs in a community that shares a passion for music, so they can achieve personal growth and make a positive contribution to society.”
In order to attend school, I gave up my job as office assistant with The Arc of Larimer County. My job now is to be a student. I am learning more music skills and working on banking and other living skills. My school focuses on music and independent living skills.
My former job as office assistant included duties like updating the website and posting on Facebook. I helped mail invitations for events and downloaded music for our talent show. I helped others in the office when they didn’t know something on the computer…like how to download music.
I am still a member, but now I do People First things only when I come home to Fort Collins from school, like during spring and winter breaks. I will be finished with school this summer. I live in the dorms at school now, but I hope to have my own place some day.
For fun I love to fish and play my guitar. My favorite movie is Free Willy and my favorite TV show is Seventh Heaven. My favorite food is pasta.