Dianna McIntyre Douglas loves all things creative. Now 20 years old, she has been singing in talent shows and at churches and other community venues since she was a little girl. She favors country music, especially anything by Reba McIntyre or Chris Young, and she recently recorded her first CD, “Baby Go Home”. Dianna also loves to paint, draw, write, crochet, and knit, something she taught herself to do by watching YouTube. “I love being creative and coming up with new things,” she comments.

Dianna and Alexa

Dianna was adopted by Kim Douglas when she was five years old. Because of disabilities related to a traumatic brain injury, Dianna needs support to participate in art and music classes and other activities she enjoys. That’s where TIES, a program of Starbridge, comes in. TIES, which stands for Together Including Every Student, promotes the participation of students and young adults who have developmental disabilities in inclusive, organized extracurricular and community activities through the support of trained student volunteers. Starbridge partners with 45 school districts in the region to offer TIES.

Dianna has been matched with several volunteers throughout the years, and she has remained friends with all of them. One volunteer, Haley, took art classes with her at the Webster Recreation Center. Haley is in college now in Washington, DC, and she and Dianna still keep in touch. Haley comments, “She was so much fun. Whatever I made, she would tell me it looked cute, and she taught me how to do it better. She’s a good friend.”

Participating in drumming circles at the Webster Recreation Center is another activity that nurtures Dianna’s love of music and her love for people. Organized by TIES, the drumming circles offer an opportunity to people with and without disabilities to have fun together.

Kim is happy that Dianna is able to pursue her interests: “I’m happy that the school district offers these types of services to children and young adults with various disabilities because it makes them feel included and that they can be involved in activities just as well as their peers. They can engage and have fun and enjoy the same activities whether it’s sports, or art class just like their classmates.”