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Mon Mar 30 00:18:15 PDT 2015
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Vivian B Adams Employee Sets the Bar High
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Matthew McClellan

If you have ever thought a disability would hold someone back from helping others, then you haven't met J.J. Lightel. "I was born clinically dead- oxygen deprivation," he explains. "After I was revived, the doctors told my mother I would basically be in a vegetative state." Lightel was not supposed to walk or talk, much less drive a car, have a relationship or be able to work a job. Lightel says his mom didn't listen to those doctors. "She worked with me for a long time. She believed that I would be able to do all of those things. I'm thankful to God," Lightel says. Today, at 34 years old, he is a teacher's assistant at Vivian B. Adams School in Ozark. Cindi Miles, an intellectual disabilities coordinator at the school, says having Lightel on staff brings an added compatibility with the students. He spends 25 hours every week working with children and adults with developmental disabilities. "It's really fulfilling, being able to give back," says Lightel, who was once a student at Adams. Giving back doesn't end with academics and skills teaching. When he sits down to play the piano, everyone in the room stops to listen. For Lightel the piano is a way to relax, unwind and entertain others. He says he hopes to show others that no matter your limitations, there is always a way to lend a hand. "We're really not that different. We're just like everyone else. We may just need a little help, a little more time, a small push. says Lightel. "Give us a chance. Let us prove what we can do." With every high-five, every smile and word of encouragement, Lightel is proving that everyone can make a difference in someone's life.


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