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Justice Friday confronts disabilities

| Monday, April 13, 2015

Saint Mary’s Justice Education Department hosted Maureen Parsons and Tiffany Amburg from Hannah & Friends, a non-profit organization dedicated to raising awareness and compassion for the special needs community, to speak about the organization Friday.

Parsons, director of operations at Hannah & Friends, spoke about the financial difficulties that families with children who have special needs are confronting.

“As soon as their child is born and they are diagnosed, their first thought is, tomorrow. How do we get through tomorrow, get through elementary school? Yet, they need to be planning for the next 15 years,” Parsons said.

According to Parsons, there are funding waivers available for families of children with disabilities, but families can sit on waiting lists for more than 10 years.

“Indiana has changed it so that you receive less with the waiver so more people are allowed to receive those services,” Parsons said.

Parsons said resources are improving, but still lacking.

“[At Hannah & Friends] we try to focus on the ability of our participants, see where they can shine and then show that to the community,” Parsons said. “Each of them have something to share, as we all do.”

Tiffany Amburg, a spokesperson and participant at Hannah & Friends, spoke about her experiences there and her lifelong challenge with Down syndrome.

Amburg said she likes to write songs and speeches when she isn’t working as the receptionist at Hannah & Friends.

She wrote a song with Jeda Cruz, the program director at Hannah & Friends, called “She’s Made of Steel.”

This song is about a girl who has her whole life ahead of her, Amburg said.

“It’s about overcoming obstacles and trusting other people,” she said. “And with my ability to tell my story [about] what it’s like to be a person with all abilities that is what the song is about, overcoming all obstacles and inspiring other people to do the same thing.”

Parsons said when Cruz performs the song in the community, there is always an audience member who says they were touched and truly connect to the song’s message.

Amburg said she enjoys her position as a Hannah & Friends spokesperson for many reasons.

“I get to go out and talk to the media about our mission at Hannah & Friends so that we can continue our future [as an organization],” she said.

“It’s also important that we can come together to promote our mission.”

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