Thursday, 30 March 2017 12:37

“Everybody Is Born Differently…People Should Be Who They Are”

“Everybody Is Born Differently…People Should Be Who They Are”

SARATOGA SPRINGS - Erica Morocco sat at the head of the table, her series of paintings sprawled across the tabletop. One featured a jump-roping owl. Another depicted a pink-glazed doughnut that looked good enough to eat. In the third, a cat bowed a violin and a cow leapt over the moon.  

“Be what you are and do what you like to do,” she says with encouragement. “If you like to paint, then paint. If you like music, make music.”

Morocco, who was diagnosed with Williams syndrome, lives by a simple motto. “Everybody is born differently,” she says. “You can’t change it.  My feelings are that people should be who they are.”   

Williams syndrome is a genetic condition that is present at birth and is characterized by medical problems, including cardiovascular disease, developmental delays, and learning disabilities. The developmental disorder affects an estimated 1 in 7,500 to 10,000 people, according to The National Library of Medicine - a center of information innovation founded in 1836, and the world’s largest biomedical library.

Morocco grew up in the town of Malta, and in 2009 moved into one of Saratoga Bridges’ community-based homes in Saratoga Springs. 

Saratoga Bridges is responsible for the 24/7 care of over 830 individuals and houses 132 people in its 19 community based homes. The organization, which employs nearly 600 people, is marking this pause in time to take note of Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month and to bring intellectual and developmental disabilities to the forefront. The group has provided services and programs to people with developmental disabilities and their families for more than 60 years by promoting their abilities and achievements in every aspect of community life.

“I like living on my house because we go out in the community and I have more opportunities to do different activities,” says Morocco. who takes art classes on Mondays and Wednesdays. Thursdays are reserved for studies on the art of the collage, and on Fridays Morocco and the group of seven who share the home go out dancing and to sing karaoke. There are weekly trips to the grocery shop, daily house chores and free time spent volunteering for Meals on Wheels. Sports is also a passion.

“I play softball, do the long jump, the 50-meter run. I like to do all of it,“ says the 38-year-old, a pair of medals clinging to her neck chain showcase her abilities in snowshoeing and track and field.

Her art pieces have received awards in juried shows, and she uses the earnings of the pieces she sells to enable her to go traveling. 

“I sell my art work, saved my money and went on a tour. I’ve been to Florida, Chicago, and Boston. I visited museums and saw other artists’ work. I like traveling. I like vacations,” she says. “When I sell a piece of artwork, I feel happy inside because I worked had on it to get it to be good.” 

It is a long time removed from her younger days in school, when she was bullied and caused her to be upset. 

“When I was in school, when I was young, I got picked on,” she says. “You get older and you move on.”

Her advice to the world when meeting people with disabilities? 

“Just treat people they way that you would like to be treated,” she says.   

 

 The 28th Annual Palm Sunday Polka Benefit, with all proceeds to benefit Saratoga Bridges will be held 1 – 5 p.m. on Sunday, April 9 at the Saratoga Springs Knights of Columbus, located at the corner of Rt. 29 and Pine Road in Saratoga Springs. This year’s event will feature a “roasting” of longtime radio Polka personality Ernie Daigle. Seating is limited and advance tickets purchased by April 3 are $13 per person.  Day of tickets are $15 per person.  For reservations, contact Steve or Cathy Coblish at 518-899-3061 or email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..  

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