How Linda Brooks helps Next Steps take some next steps. Featured in Winter 2010 Discovery
Brooks has been advocating for postsecondary options for students with intellectual disabilities for over 20 years. Her interest and concern for the lack of programs began when she was searching for postsecondary programming for her daughter Wendy, who has Down syndrome.
"I had a terrible time trying to find education classes for Wendy once she had aged out of the school system," said Brooks. "I went through the State and through the private sector and was astonished that there was nothing for her. Wendy needs educational stimulation to continue to make progress. My search proved to be very disappointing."
A few years ago, Brooks urged the Vanderbilt Kennedy Center to address this crucial need and committed a gift to help make this happen," said Elise McMillan, J.D., VKC UCEDD co-director. "Linda’s vision and commitment provided a strong foundation for statewide coalition building and looking at such programs nationwide-which have now culminated in Next Steps at Vanderbilt, thanks to the her gift and a 3-year grant from the Tennessee Council on Developmental Disabilities."
Brooks is especially encouraged by the program’s inclusion of independent living skills in the curricula and by its focus on employment.
"As more and more people find out about the program, the movement will grow bigger and stronger," said Brooks. "More people will want to join, and before you know it, there will be programs all over the State. As Vanderbilt is successful, other colleges and universities will want to step on board and develop programs of their own. I couldn’t help Wendy go to college all those years ago, but I can help the young kiddos now who are capable and willing to learn."
"On behalf of Next Steps at Vanderbilt and the entire Vanderbilt Kennedy Center, we thank Linda Brooks for her knowledge and for her commitment to improving the lives of individuals with disabilities and their families," said Elisabeth Dykens, Ph.D., VKC director. "Her willingness to share her expertise and her generosity with this financial gift will assist students with intellectual disabilities as they transition into life after high school, as they are exposed to the exciting life of a college student, and as they secure meaningful employment which will bring them closer to leading independent lives."
Linda Brooks currently serves on the Leadership Council of the Vanderbilt Kennedy Center and is on the boards of the Siloam Family Health Center and the Brookwood. Community in Brookshire, Texas. She is a member of the Ambassador’s Circle of Centerstone and is a past board member of Brightstone, Progress, the Nashville Alliance for the Mentally Ill, Centerstone, and the Mental Health Association of Middle Tennessee. Brooks earned her B.A. degree from East Texas State University in 1962. In 1968, she married Samuel Allen Brooks, Jr., who died in 2003. They have three children, Wendy, Dan, and Ashley.
Last Updated: 11/1/2012 3:33:35 PM
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