What does “That’s My IL” mean? It means something different to each person who comes through our doors. IL philosophy values dignity, resourcefulness, and freedom of choice for all people with disabilities. The way someone overcomes barriers to living independently is a core part of what “That’s My IL” stands for. It is the personal journey that leads someone to becoming more independent, examples include: learning how to use the public transit system, advocating for personal needs, requesting an accommodation at work, or getting an accessible apartment. That’s My IL stories are here to celebrate the strength of ingenuity that lives in the disability world.
1) Tell us about yourself.
My name is Wesley Snow and I was raised in New Town, North Dakota. As a kid, I was diagnosed with a learning disability. Throughout my childhood, I experienced many barriers. Teachers told me they could not help me learn, I was bullied and often timid.
During my youth, my mom and I moved several times in search of programs to improve my ability to learn. Every time I went to a new place, I was faced with new challenges. I was forced to make new friends, meet new teachers and adapt to a new environment. The hurdles I faced growing up have provided me with the foundation I needed to be successful following high school.
After graduation, I was unsure of what I wanted to do in life but my parents encouraged me to pursue the ASTEP program at Minot State University (MSU). They said the program would help me learn, better understand college classes and provide me with opportunities to socialize and meet new people. After two years of being enrolled in the program, I discovered my passion for drawing and creativity. I realized I could channel my creativity through photography and decided to pursue a degree at Dakota College-Bottineau (DCB)
While participating in the ASTEP program, Vanessa at North Dakota Center for Persons with Disabilities (NDCPD) recommended I visit Independence, Inc. to help achieve my goal of attending college and develop a routine to be successful throughout my studies. That is when I met Peer Mentor Specialist, Trampes Brown. Trampes helped me work on different independent living skills such as online banking, cooking and other skills needed in preparation for my future as a college student.
After working with Trampes, he encouraged me to become a Peer Mentor through Independence, Inc. Today, I am mentoring an ASTEP classmate interested in earning his drivers permit and meeting with him to prepare for his exam. Peer mentoring pushed me outside of my comfort zone and has allowed me to connect with other people with disabilities. As a result of this opportunity, I have learned how to help other people with disabilities understand we all share similar experiences and can help one another achieve our goals.
Photo Description: An adult women with two adult men. The man in the middle is holding a blanket and is dressed in a green graduation gown and a green hat with tattles. He his holding a colorful blanket over his left shoulder.