KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Essential workers have not stopped during the pandemic. We want to salute a master’s level therapist who helps patients cope during COVID-19.
We talked with Brittany Bowmann at home, learning about the big challenges she faces every day, always putting others first. She is this week’s WATE 6 On Your Side Hero.
In her rare downtime, Brittany enjoys getting her terrier mix dog named Duncan ready for a walk.
The two head downstairs from Brittany’s second-floor apartment, where she has no trouble keeping up with her energetic pet.
Brittany has worked hard for moments like these. She was born with a condition that affects her joints. It’s called Arthrogryposis.
“Obviously I’m affected in my arms,” Brittany says. “So that’s very difficult. There’s a lot of things I’m not able to do, obviously, like raising my arms or lift very heavy things.”
The condition also affects her knees.
“When I was born, doctors said I wouldn’t be able to walk. I started walking at 2 and a half years old. Just from what my mom said, I just stood up and walked off,” Brittany says with a chuckle.
Brittany was surrounded by family support growing up, but as an adult, her desire and ability to have a good job and live as independently as possible wasn’t easy.
We first got to know Brittany in May 2013 when she asked our WATE 6 On Your Side Consumer Reporter Don Dare to step in after she had trouble getting a driver’s license despite passing the tests.
She ended up getting that license, and also went on to earn her master’s degree in social work from UT Chattanooga, where she learned the best ways to not only help others but herself.
“Kinda going through doing my master’s in social work has taught me more about the importance of being able to advocate for yourself and speak up and say ‘you know, I can do this.’ People just assume that you can’t, essentially,” Brittany says.
Brittany is able to live on her own and does light housework. She enjoys painting parties and looks forward to continuing her love of travel when the pandemic is over.
She’s taking the steps to live life on her own terms at home and on the job.
“If I need something or if I need those accommodations, then I have to learn to speak up for myself, and not be afraid to speak up,” she says. “It takes a minute, but I just have to learn to do it.”
October is Disability Employment Awareness Month. Brittany gets help from the state’s Employment and Community First Choices Program. It provides personal assistance services a few hours a week to help her with things like washing her hair. It really has helped her gain the independence she deserves.
For more information on the program visit tn.gov.
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