Kayla Joiner is just like most people — she wakes up to go to work every morning, she has hobbies like painting, and she likes to go out with her boyfriend on the weekends.
The only difference is that Joiner is intellectually disabled. In dealing with her disability, she goes to the Permian Basin Community Center’s Day Hab program, which involves giving Joiner and other patients with intellectual or developmental disabilities work duties such as cleaning, as well as exercise and other activities like arts and crafts, and learning skills like cooking and crossing the street.
PBCC is the local authority for mental health and intellectual and developmental disabilities, providing care and services for anyone in the community who has been diagnosed with one of those disabilities. March is disabilities awareness month and the PBCC is trying to share the stories of some of their clients.
“The point of disability awareness month is to get people to realize that people with disabilities, even though they have challenges, they still have so much to contribute to the community,” PBCC Special Projects Coordinator Megan Newman said.
While Joiner is able to work, cleaning offices at PBCC, she has some struggles with reading and writing, something she is trying to improve upon.
“I’m happy to learn how to read and write because I never learned how to as a child,” Joiner, 49, said. “When I went to school, they didn’t teach me well enough.”
Joiner works on her reading and writing skills with Susie Rubio, who helps to manage the work crew Joiner is on as well.
“She’s a good worker,” Rubio said. “She’s a fast learner.”
Joiner said she likes working because it keeps her busy and helps her earn money. She had also held jobs working at Golden Corral and other day cares around town. Newman said Joiner has only missed work when she was recovering from knee surgery since she began going to PBCC again two years ago.
When she isn’t working, Joiner said she is working on other hobbies, such as painting at her home, where she lives with her mother, or going bowling with her boyfriend, whom she met when she first came to PBCC in 1989 before leaving and coming back.
Joiner said she is always learning new hobbies because she likes new experiences. Most importantly, she said, she tries to stay happy.
“Unless my boyfriend gets out of hand and I have to beat him up,” Joiner said, jokingly.
Joiner’s happiness makes it easy for her to get along with others and make friends at PBCC. During morning exercise, she can be seen talking and smiling with her friends, and she’ll frequently make jokes.
“I don’t see Kayla as my client, I see her as a friend,” Rubio said.