Illinois’ move away from institutions such as the soon-to-be-closed Jacksonville Developmental Center gives the developmentally disabled a better chance of being your neighbor, or working at your favorite fast-food place. “It’s going to be scary at first, because most of my life I’ve lived in group homes and facilities,” says Jennifer McCarrey, who still resides at JDC. “I’m ready,” she adds with a laugh. “I think it’s time for me to move on.”
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“I didn’t like change when I first moved out, but I’m used to it now,” says Brian Lynch, who lives in an apartment setting in Springfield, with help from aides. John Porter, a group home resident who works at a Springfield McDonald’s, says the developmentally disabled are no different from you and me: “We should be treated like we belong here.” The three were among hundreds attending the Illinois Council on Developmental Disabilities conference in Springfield.