Frontline Initiative

Progress!...With Support


Mia Peterson is regional coordinator for the Iowa Systems Change Network in Webster City, Iowa

My name is Mia Peterson and I’m from Webster City, Iowa. I work at a Hy-Vee Grocery Store. I worked with Supported Employment to find my job. I looked for work myself and all Supported Employment did was support me and assist me now and then. I got services from them for two years, but now I do my job on my own. Now I’m not getting any services from them!

I’m also co-editor of a newsletter called Community Advocacy Press, and I get support from the business Capabilities Unlimited (CU). I like working with CU because I’ve learned to work hard for myself and others and it’s a lot of fun. For three years, I’ve also been regional coordinator of the Iowa Systems Change Network. I get support from the statewide coordinator, Nancy Witt. She got me started on this. I’m also an appointee to the Iowa Governor’s Developmental Disabilities Planning Council. I am the youngest member, am the only one with a disability – Down syndrome – and am the first person with this disability on this council.

 I’m also an investigator on a research project, Learning Language on Communications, with the assistance of Laura Meyers, the coinvestigator. Laura is a linguist with a Ph.D. She works to help people with disabilities to have a voice, and in a way that’s what my research project is all about. I’m trying to find out how people with Down syndrome learn language. I ask other people with Down syndrome questions from a survey about what it was like when they were little and what it’s like now. I get to talk to many people and find out how they feel, which I think is fun. Dr. Meyers showed me how to make up a grant that got funded! She taught me to have fun even if it’s a lot of hard work.

Everyone needs support – but some people still don’t get any. Sometimes I forget that part of how people show they care is by giving support. I didn’t always like all the supports I received and I didn’t always want advice, but I’ve learned that we have to help each other.