Mayor Sue Kiley declares Isla Newton a “Hazlet Hero”
She’s 8 years old and has Downs Syndrome. She’s also one the of faces of a national organization that is fighting to update laws and regulations that hold people with disabilities from reaching their full potential in education, employment and self sufficiency.
Isla Newton lives in Hazlet with her parents Jim and Dori and her younger brother Theo. She is a student at Raritan Valley Elementary School. Like most children, Isla dreams of getting married, having good job and being economically independent.
Isla’s future is limited more by antiquated laws than it is by her disability, according to the National Downs Syndrome Society. Individuals with down syndrome, and other disabilities, risk losing their health care, Medicaid, if they earn more than $16,000 per year or have more than $2500 in assets. “Law Syndrome” is more of a detriment to their fulfilling futures than is Downs Syndrome.
“NDSS is leading this historic national effort by showcasing to the world that Down syndrome doesn’t stop people with Down syndrome — it’s ‘Law Syndrome’ that holds them back,” said NDSS President Sara Hart Weir. “By launching this campaign, we are calling on our leaders in Congress to join our efforts to reform these complex but misguided laws — and to help us change #LawSyndrome.”
As part of the national campaign and lobbying effort, Isla’s photo appears on print ads nationally. Her image has appeared on the big screen in Times Square and she’s featured in this video ad:
Hazlet Mayor Sue Kiley was inspired by the Newtons’ story and Isla’s national notoriety when she read Dori’s facebook posts. Kiley asked MMM to bring local attention to Isla’s efforts.
“This is what Hazlet is all about,” Kiley said. “We’re a community that supports each other and celebrates our neighbors accomplishments. Isla Newton and her family are Hazlet Heroes.”
Kiley said she would make the ‘Hazlet Hero” designation official with a proclamation from the Township Committee at the November 6 meeting and that she is going to expand the Hazlet Connect Program, which currently brings seniors and high school student together, to reach out to people with disabilities.