Ms Wheelchair New York addresses My Time Inc’s Breakfast with the Chef.
Good Afternoon. My name is Ketrina Hazell.
I’m honored to be here today to share my story of hope of possibilities. In front of so
many amazing people with disabilities, there families and parents as well as
government officials, moments like this is very close and dear to my heart.
Many of my friends and family members has children with disabilities including
Autism, ADHD. Down Syndrome and Cerebral Palsy. They bring so much joy to my
When I was born a beautiful healthy baby, I stayed in the hospital for weight gain for
3 months although my heart rate dropped a few times. I was fine in doctors words. I
was discharged and still was described that healthy baby girl.
A few months later my parents became concerned about my strives in development
compared to my older siblings.
At 9 months old I was diagnosed with a disability. Doctors never explain the
outcome of the disability. Instead they gave my parents a shocking question that I
am sure many of you parents heard or dealt with something similar before.
Can you handle to care for her or you can leave her here.
Doctors told my mom and dad I will never be able to see, hear, talk, walk or do
anything for myself as a normal child. What is “normal” any way.
My parents was then directed to early intervention for me and their is when the
therapist give my parents the diagnoses. I have Cerebral Palsy. My parents had no
Idea what cerebral palsy was at that time. They had hope that one day I will walk
again. As they truly entered and adapted to a whole new world and a life changing
experience for my siblings too.
At a young age my parents set the tone with my siblings to treat me no different or
Growing up, I spent many days and hours between therapy, evaluations and
Throughout my childhood and teenage life I had two major surgeries.
My parents were born and raised in the caribbean where the word disability is
perceived different. Many people with disabilities are kept at home due to a strong
feeling of shame.
Navigating these systems from medical to educational is not always easy I know
especially when you are not pointed in the right direction. professionals as well as
admisationers sets that low expectations of people with disabilities like myself
I can tell you for many years I was very shy and didn’t speak to anyone besides my
mom and dad while many others will just get a simple hi and smile.
Evaluators assumed I didn’t know my colors, teachers was upset because I didn’t
speak to them.. From very young my doctors talked with me like a professional so i
knew when my treatments was not right with my physical therapist etc. So I will then
tell my mom.
Despite my mom not really knowing the services and supports that existed for
children with disabilities such as home health aide services and opwdd until i was at
least 14 years old. She knew what it was like to be an advocate. She stood up for
what she believed in.. never settled for less and allowed me to reach my full
Even when it was my mom words against the walls especially when i was being
forgotten on school trips, events and not so great service providers she aimed to go
Especially when my school support team told me my future will be in a day program
because my physical disability they said college was not possible.
I am proud to be able to take the footsteps of mom and supports of my dad today
although sometimes i need that strong voice like her and as an growing adult i think
she has a lot more to learn for me but she says i have a voice now..lol.
I never stopped dreaming big. Today I am breaking barriers. I am a high school
graduate, and I attended college for two years even though I was told I belong in a day
program. Today I prove them wrong. I am not finished following what my heart truly
I have the huge title of Ms. Wheelchair NY 2018, with the platform of bringing self-
advocacy into schools and building an inclusive environment. I serve on many
committees, like the Developmental Disability Planning Council, and just recently was
accepted to serve on the advisory council post-secondary education. I’m also the
founder of my very own advocacy group.
Since then I have the great honor to spent time and share moments with children with
disabilities and their families so when i connected with my time i thought of my parents,
my journey growing up, the stories of these parents and how I wanted to empower and
give these parents “hope”
Thank you to my time for allowing me to share my story and to impact others. In the
future I plan on working with parents of children with a disabilities to grant them much
hope of possibilities for their child.
Many parents who call on me now says wow we once thought you will call on us now
we are calling on you!
Today I shine. Today I give hope to children and parents who need extra support. To
the parents of a child with a disability, don’t listen to what others say is impossible. Your
child will still become something with his or her abilities. Maybe even something you
never imagined. Help them grow and shine! Remember to believe.
Have a great night.