Big Brothers Big Sisters of Southwest Michigan is proud to celebrate Local Black Heroes throughout the year. Sign up for our e.news to get updates in your inbox and learn more about the impact of local heroes in your community.
Dr. Tamiko Garrett is the Senior Director of Site Services for Communities in Schools (CIS) of Kalamazoo. She believes “that even though we are all faced with adversity, everyone can be successful.”
Invisible Disability Advocacy
In 2019, Garrett founded Parents For Transition, a non-profit that provides advocacy and resources for parents/guardians and youth impacted by invisible disabilities.
The Invisible Disability Project defines invisible disabilities as, “… any physical, mental, or emotional impairment that goes largely unnoticed.”
“An invisible disability can include, but is not limited to: cognitive impairment and brain injury; the autism spectrum; chronic illnesses like multiple sclerosis, chronic fatigue, chronic pain, and fibromyalgia; d/Deaf and/or hard of hearing; blindness and/or low vision; anxiety, depression, PTSD, and many more.”
The body is always changing, so disability and chronic illness may be unstable or periodic throughout one’s life.
Supporting Invisible Disability
Parents for Transitions provides 6 and 8 week training opportunities that focus on many different aspects of invisible disability, including:
- goal setting,
- how to self-disclose,
- and parent/guardian and youth self-care.
These invaluable courses aim to “provide the tools to develop collaborative relationships with members of K-12 educational systems and be exposed to community resources,” according to their mission statement.
Being Poured Into
When asked who inspired or mentored her, Garrett shares that she, “has been inspired and poured into by many folks in Kalamazoo who believed she could make an impact.” She highlights the following people:
- Jackie Cantrell, KVCC
- Dr. Regena Fails-Nelson, WMU
- Dr. Liliana Rodriguez-Campos, former WMU professor
- Mr. Craig McCane, Linden Grove Middle School
- Mrs. Jane Baas, WMU
It is evident in the way that Garrett cares for her community that the influence these people have had in her life has been mighty.
When asked in what ways she hopes to impact others, Garrett explains, “I hope to impact others by providing education, resources, and tools for them to advocate for themselves due to their invisible disability.”
Garrett has brought that hope to fruition by her work at Parents for Transitions, and our community is a better place for it.