SAYREVILLE – Carly Hewitt, a Sayreville native and newest member of the Educational Service Commission of New Jersey’s (ESCNJ) Adult Community Services Advisory Committee, has always had a passion for achieving success, no matter what.
The program offers individuals with disabilities ages 21 and over an opportunity to strive for independence and career-readiness by helping them develop their social, emotional and life skills.
Along with her passion, Hewitt brings her lifetime experience with spinal muscular atrophy, a neuromuscular disease that renders her unable to move any of her muscles or breathe independently. Hewitt uses eye gaze technology and relies on a wheelchair and a ventilator, as she actively voices the needs of young people with disabilities.
“I hope to help guide the program participants and their families through my first-hand experience navigating the world with a disability,” she said. “I want to help as much as I possibly can.”
Hewitt has not let her disability stop her. She is a recent graduate of Rutgers University, where she majored in psychology, minored in education and graduated summa cum laude.
Hewitt is now hoping to attend graduate school for a career in education, as she uses this new opportunity on the advisory committee as a way to solidify her experiences and focus.
“When I first approached Carly about joining the ACS Advisory Committee, I thought that with her life experience and successes, she would bring a wonderful viewpoint, as well as thoughtful and innovative ideas, to the committee,” said ACS Executive Director Allison Sanchez.
Post-21 programs such as ACS are a critical way to provide resources and guidance to students with disabilities who have “aged out” of other services, Hewitt said.
“I became really interested in joining the committee because the ACS program not only teaches participants how to contribute to society but also shows them how they can advocate for themselves,” she added.
Former Sayreville Mayor Kennedy O’Brien was key to bringing Hewitt to the advisory committee after becoming close with her family.
O’Brien has watched her grow up and build a close support network in the borough. She was even crowned homecoming queen at Sayreville War Memorial High School, serving as an ever-present inspiration for her peers and their families.
“Carly is an extraordinary person and once I became familiar with ACS, I knew that she would add great insight to what we’re doing for the 21 and over special needs population,” O’Brien said. “She has overcome unbelievable obstacles and it’s simply awe inspiring how she doesn’t let anything hinder her. She is among the most amazing people I have ever met, a true inspiration.”
Hewitt credits her upbringing for her tenacity and determination in achieving whatever goal she sets, despite physical limitations. She even started her own online business, showing, again, the eagerness of people with disabilities to work and contribute to society in many ways.
“I was always brought up to not let my disability stop me from pursuing my dreams. It was instilled in me to never give up, no matter the obstacles,” she said. “I bring that passion to ACS, which has enormous possibilities to help so many young people like me succeed.”
To serve on the ACS advisory committee or learn more about the program, contact Sanchez at email@example.com
- This information was provided by ESCNJ.