In the years since graduating from BHMA, Katharine Breunig, Class of 2009, has been growing her independence and letting her creativity flourish. After practicing basic life skills for two years in the dorms on campus, Breunig spent some time at home before moving out when she was around twenty-seven. The move was the realization of a long-term dream of hers, and part of a push in Vermont toward supportive decision making––empowering individuals with disabilities to have more agency over their own life choices. Breunig, who has Down syndrome, now lives with a home provider in West Brattleboro, occupying her own space in the house while having support nearby.
Breunig maintains an active lifestyle and has thus felt the impact of the pandemic in her daily routines. Last spring she opted to leave her grocery store job to stay safe, though plans to go back. In the meantime, Breunig’s virtual programming has allowed her to stay connected to her peers and remain immersed in music and drama. She has performed with Theatre Adventure, an organization she has been a part of since 2006 (click here for a video on her thought process as she crafts a character), and participated in online activities like yoga, art class, and book club through the disability service agency Families First. She has continued to play and perform numbers on the piano, kept up with her writing, and even won a Special Olympics gold medal for their pandemic fitness challenge.
Breunig carriers herself with confidence, which is on full display in the theatre productions she participates in, and the big life decisions she makes. She used BHMA as a springboard toward a more independent life full of everything she values. Breunig looks back fondly on her time in South Hadley––she was excited to attend last year’s Come Together virtual event, and keeps her yearbooks on hand. Her story underscores the need for access to engaging programming, and exemplifies the importance of self-determination for individuals with disabilities.