Freedom and Independence
Meet Emily Canoles. Emily grew up in Middlefield, Connecticut. She has aspirations to be an actor. When Emily was born and it was discovered she had Down syndrome, her parents were advised to place her in foster care with a family trained in handling this disability. Emily’s Mom, a Christian Science nurse, decided with God’s help she could support their baby daughter.
According to Emily, “Christian Science has always been my lifeline.” When she was in her 20s, she moved to Rainbow Valley Ranch in upstate New York to join other adults with special needs who choose Christian Science as a way of life. At the time the Ranch was sold, Emily relocated for a period of time to a group home.
There came a point when Emily felt she was ready to live independently. While some people didn’t feel she was capable, Emily sensed it was the right move, and more importantly felt God knew it was the right move. “I prayed and prayed to know that.”
After living on her own for several years now, Emily says, “Living independently has given me freedom. I absolutely love it! It has given me a step up.” When asked candidly if she sees herself as a disabled person, Emily responds, “I’m aware that others see me that way, but I don’t. I don’t believe God made disabled people.”
Emily has advice for those who have been labeled as disabled, “Just because you have a disability, you are more capable than people think. Do not give up. Take baby steps. I don’t care what disability you have. You can progress.”
Presently, Emily works at Walmart. She enjoys attending church with Sandy, a Rainbow Valley Resource Network (RVRN) support person living nearby, then going out for lunch afterward. Emily has not given up on her dream to act. She shared, “As an actor, I want to be an advocate for disabled people. I want to be their voice.”
Emily thinks of her RVRN friends as family.