AUSTIN — If you ask Kristin Miller why she wanted to be a part of the Arkansas Governor’s Developmental Disability Council, all she has to do is point to a picture of her niece, Mary Madison.
Mary was diagnosed with autism at a young age.
“I wanted to be a part of [this council] and help others like her,” Miller said.
According to the its website, the council’s main objective is to improve the independence and productivity of people with developmental disabilities and to ensure their integration and inclusion into the community.
“We want to help them be successful members of the community, and we want to help their families as well,” Miller said.
She applied to be on the council a year ago, and a position didn’t come open until this year, she said.
After a background and reference check, Miller was appointed to the Developmental Disability Council, with her term to expire in June 2016.
She looks forward to fighting for those who might not otherwise have a voice in the government, Miller said.
“Mary Madison is my inspiration to want to be a voice for those struggling to find assistance and make the community a friendlier place for them and their families,” Miller said.
A trip to Disney World last Thanksgiving showed Miller the importance of modifications for people with developmental disabilities. Her niece was allowed shorter wait times for attractions at the park, contributing to a better experience for her.
“There are so many needs for those experiencing these challenges, and I feel that the DDC is the perfect opportunity to ensure people are made aware of these issues,” Miller said.
Though Miller and her husband do not have children, she said her nieces and nephews are important to her.
“Having the blessing of a special-needs child in your life keeps you grounded and so very thankful for the small miracles every day,” she said. “Mary Madison is truly our ray of sunshine, and all of her friends with special needs are like extended family.”
Miller talked with the director of the DDC and said she knew being a part of the council would be a good opportunity. She said she is excited about her new appointment and making a difference with the developmentally disabled community.
“I just want the parents and community to know that I am here to be their voice,” Miller said.