New North Carolina state budget gives big money to Down syndrome programs

EMBED </>More Videos

State budget gives big money to Down syndrome programs

Around the halls of the state legislative building, Rep. John Bradford is never far from Megan Czejkowski.

This is the second time he has recruited an intern with Down syndrome.

"I'm learning more from these individuals with Down syndrome than they can ever learn from me," said Bradford.

"I think he's awesome. Personally, if he was in this district, he would get my vote," smiled Czejkowski.

The pair are making big strides on Jones Street.

Bradford has secured $500,000 in one-time funding to help people like Megan.

It's the first time ever money in the state budget will go to programs specifically for Down syndrome.

"Sometimes government can't do what the private sector can do," he said. "Rather than having NC DHHS try to recreate the wheel so to speak, we tried to find programs that were already existing, already up and running, making positive impacts on individual lives."

Gigi's Playhouse of Raleigh is set to get $400,000 of the funding.

The non-profit is the first of its kind in North Carolina that provides free educational, therapeutic and career training for people with Down syndrome.

The center has served more than 200 families in the area since opening last year.

"We had a 54-year-old man come into our playhouse, and he said his goal was to read. Eight months later he's starting to read," said president and founder Jeanhee Hoffman.

Gigi's plans to boost career and adult prep programs with the funding and reach more people in the state's most rural areas through mobile literacy carts.

"This is a game-changer for the Down Syndrome community," said Hoffman.

A chance to create more opportunities for people like Megan learning life skills they never thought possible.

"I want people to know they can follow their dreams, do what they want to do in life," she said. "I think it's a great thing for kids with special needs to come into this."

The Piedmont Down Syndrome Support Network will receive $100,000 of the allocated money.

Bradford plans to lobby for the funding again in the next budget cycle.
Related Topics:
politicsdown syndromegeneral assemblyRaleigh
(Copyright ©2018 WTVD-TV. All Rights Reserved.)