Friday, 13 January 2017 10:42

Neighbors: Snippets of life from your community

Meet Brian Burnett, 48, a resident of Saratoga Bridges in Saratoga Springs. He has an intellectual disability and seizures, but doesn’t let that stop him from living life to the fullest, even in Saratoga’s wintertime. Brian’s story: I was a teenager one time watching Little Rascals on TV, and everything went black. The doctor said I had a seizure. The last one I had was in the middle of the night about a year ago. When I swim, I wear a life jacket because I don’t want to take any chances. I went as far as middle school, and after I came here [to Saratoga Bridges] I took part in the Skidmore program called Bridges to Saratoga, which gives individuals of Saratoga Bridges a chance to take classes at Skidmore. I was one of the first people to attend the program. I studied art history, computer science, biology, and different classes each week. I have been with Saratoga Bridges for a pretty long time. They help me with a lot of things. I remember when I was stuck at home, but now here with the group home you got a lot of outings. When we go to the grocery store, we take turns with the grocery shopping. I get to learn new things, like how to do chores and all that, you know. I do self-advocate orientation once a month for the new Saratoga Bridges staff, for all new hires. It used to be a volunteer job, but now it’s a paid job. We teach them that we don’t like being treated like we’re children, because we’re not. Even though we have disabilities, we can do things ourselves. It helps them know better how to work with us. I wish that people would treat you more nicely. When I was in school, people used to call me names because I wasn’t good at math, like stupid, and that’s not right. I hope they would be nice to me and not give me any grief. I don’t get any grief at Saratoga Bridges. I first started Special Olympics when I moved into the residential programs. I like horseback riding. My stepmother owned horses. I started learning to ride when I was little. I ride in the Special Olympics now, and at the Ridin-Hy dude ranch in Warrensburg. Horseback riding is when I get a chance to learn controlled leadership, a sense of control. You control the horse, can’t let the horse control you. I do other Special Olympic activities, too. I also do track and field, bowling, and cross-country skiing. Skiing is starting. Even when there’s no snow we start hiking. We usually ski at Saratoga Spa State Park on Sundays. I like skiing, too. Brian’s artwork can be found in The Creative Endeavors Art Center at 49 Front Street in Ballston Spa. For more information about Saratoga Bridges, visit saratogabridges.org.
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