‘Empower Card’ helps those with disabilities communicate, find independence

Connecticut Families

GUILFORD, Conn. (WTNH)– A relatively new community initiative in Guilford is helping those with disabilities communicate and find independence.

“Alex is 25-years-old. He has an intellectual disability and a touch of autism,” said Kim Beckett.

Alex has a job, friends and loves activities like basketball, but…

“If you asked him to explain a concept, if you asked what happened, he would not be able to do that successfully,” said Beckett.

So, through experiences and conversations, his mom, Kim Beckett, came-up with an idea to help her son and others communicate. It’s all about the ‘Empower Card.’

“This gives them the opportunity to provide all that information, that their families are notified, that they have someone there to pick them up if needed,” said Sergeant Martina Jakober.

The Guilford Police Department jumped on board. The ID card with a photo also assists first responders in an emergency situation.

“There are some nuances. Unless you are a parent of a child with a disability, you have no clue as to some of the things that go on” said Beckett.

“Oftentimes, people are non verbal or they close down when they’re stressed out. Maybe the sirens, maybe we’re out searching for someone and we have a dog, they could be afraid of the dog,” said Jakober.

Sergeant Martina Jakober says the program, involving registration and training with the police department, provides details that will ease stressful situations, improving community relations.

“I just think it’s a win, win situation for everybody,” said Jakober.

Beckett says that it’s a family decision. But, for her, it provides a level of safety for Alex, while also helping him achieve future goals.

“There are a number of people with intellectual disabilities or cognitive disabilities that are striving for independence and this card gives them that independence,” said Beckett.

About 20 people in Guilford have registered and received cards. The police department hopes this concept catches on in other towns.

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