Nandi has Down syndrome and is legally blind but she has never been one to shy away from anything or hide behind the label of disabled. In fact she is a vibrant, active, self-employed member of society, now living in a group home in Macon and vocal advocate for the disabled.
With Special Olympics Georgia Nandi has participated for over 12 years--she ice skates, bowls,
participates in basketball skills, sailing and equestrian. She has been a Global Messenger for Special Olympics GA for over 10 years where she serves as an ambassador and give speeches to groups as large as 300 (Chief of Police Conference) or as small as 10 telling the story of how she has overcome difficulties and showing how important it is to believe in yourself and never take “No” for an answer. This is a volunteer position and her mother is more than willing to take her to Atlanta or various cities for speaking engagements.
She traveled to Atlanta several times a month with her mother to participate in the "Partners in Policy Making Georgia" nine-month course offered by Atlanta Alliance on Developmental Disabilities learning to be a self-advocate. She has come to the Capitol on Disability Day for several years and lobbied for the "Unlock the Waiting List" and for Medicaid Waivers. One day she served as a page at the capitol assisting her senator from Macon, Bibb.
Most people with a visual disability might be afraid to take on new sports such as ice-skating and equestrian, but Nandi never misses a beat. She graduated from Georgia Academy for the Blind and began working at Goodwill Industries. She is considered a role model by her peers and is fortunate that her mother is very active as an advocate for the disabled. Now that Nandi is out of school she can sometime travel with her mother to meetings and to speak to groups to encourage others with disabilities to be the BEST they can be and to have a positive attitude and a determination to succeed.
Nandi's mom is a parent mentor with Bibb School system and Co-chair for DBHDD Quality Improvement Council for Reg. 2, member of DBHDD Communication Work Group and Mid GA CARENET (sponsored by Rosalyn Carter Institute on Caregiving). Nandi also volunteers as a P.E. Coach at the Georgia Academy of the Blind.
Nandi has been nominated to become a Council member on the Governor's Council on Developmental Disabilities. Working with her mom and other support groups she has put together a micro-enterprise called "Scan with Nan" where she works at Wal-Mart preserving people's personal documents, photos etc. and is self-supporting living in a group home. In 2007 she was chosen for an "Act of Courage Award" along with Congressman John Lewis given by the Tubman African American Museum - quite an honor!
Nandi’s folks left Sharjah (United Arab Emirates) when she was a baby to move to the United States because in Indian culture when someone is born with Down syndrome it is seen as a curse or bad karma for something one has done. And her parents knew that her opportunities would be very limited. In America - Nandi has thrived and become a shining example of someone who is a leader and role model to the Down syndrome community and the disabled community in general.
Nandi and her family were chosen by their peers as the "Family of the Year" at the Distinguished Service Awards given by Special Olympics Georgia several years ago.