Like so many women, Trina Washington balances a full and demanding schedule – holding down a full-time job, being a wife and mother, and participating in her community. Trina also has muscular dystrophy, and needs support from March of Dimes to help maintain her busy life and independence.
For the past ten years, Trina has worked as a Disability Counsellor at Niagara College. She is there to help ease the transition of students with disabilities into post-secondary education, having gone through the same process herself while earning a Masters Degree and becoming a Registered Social Worker.
Starting college can be a time fraught with anxiety for any student striking out on their own for the first time, but can prove even more challenging for students with disabilities. Leaving the safety net of the childhood home and feeling safe in a new environment can be difficult for both the students and their parents. Trina is there to help alleviate concerns, connect students with the necessary supports, both at the college and in the community, and empower them to become successful.
Without March of Dimes' support, Trina might not be able to work full-time at Niagara Collage and provide this crucial support to her students. Muscular dystrophy prevents Trina from walking safely on her own for more than a few steps, so she uses an electric scooter outside the house. Her husband is able to provide some of her care, but it is March of Dimes’ Independent Living Program and its attendant services workers that help Trina get to work in the morning, provide assistance during the day, and get her home safely.
"I really can’t imagine where I would be without March of Dimes," says Trina. "I really believe I would not have had the privilege of having my work life continue as successfully as it has, and be able to have this amazing job were it not for March of Dimes,” she continues.
A personal support worker comes to Trina’s home in the morning to help her get dressed and into her van for work. Once at Niagara College, there is an attendant on hand to help her with any support she might need during the day. She is helped to her van to go home at the end of the day.
"March of Dimes has really been my lifeline," explains Trina. "One of the major considerations of someone with a physical disability is 'how will I manage' – whether it is traveling, or going to school or work," she continues. "March of Dimes helps me to manage - the service I receive from them is so outstanding, they take direction from consumers so well and they really go out of their way to accommodate my needs,” she says.
Because of March of Dimes' support, Trina has been able to help hundreds of students successfully navigate post-secondary education and finds nothing more rewarding then attending their graduation ceremonies.
"March of Dimes has truly been a godsend," says Trina. "I really credit them with helping maintain my independence – and I pass this along to my students – so they see what they can achieve, regardless of any disability."