Recognizing Developmental Disability Awareness Month with Fatou’s Story

March is Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month! A time to raise awareness of the barriers that people with disabilities sometimes face and celebrate the contributions of people with intellectual and other developmental disabilities (ID/DD). In honor of this important month, we’d like to share the story of Fatou Koivogui, her stepmother Kathryn, and her stepsister Annmarie.

Fatou came to Louisville as a sponsored immigrant in 2017. Due to coming over on a sponsorship, if she received any public services, she would be considered a Public Charge and need to return to Guinea. Fatou’s needs were far beyond what could be supported in the community. She required intensive instruction by trained staff in a secure setting to ensure her safety and the safety of those around her.

In the last five years, the Seven Counties Services Developmental Division, the Lee Specialty Clinic, Applied Behavior Advancements LLC, and Churchill Park School have been the only supports available to Fatou and her family. All involved fiercely advocated for her and searched for ways to access the level of care she needed — especially her stepmother Kathryn.

Since 2020, Fatou’s caregiver has been isolated from all supportive services due to the pandemic. She sacrificed everything to care for Fatou and her other daughter, Annmarie, who is blind and autistic. Through it all, she remained committed and determined to see Fatou through the waiting period so that she could access the level of care that Fatou needs to learn, grow, and heal.

After five years, Fatou’s wait finally ended in January 2022. Seven Counties Services Crisis Team was able to get Fatou admitted to Oakwood ICF in Somerset, Kentucky. At Oakwood ICF, Fatou will have the opportunity to learn skills for community living and explore interests safely. Kathryn Aqua, Fatou’s stepmother, never gave up her struggle and determination to care for Fatou and her daughter Annmarie. She is a champion for the Disability Community, and we are honored to share her family’s story of perseverance.

During this month of recognition, we encourage you to take a moment to celebrate the abilities, interests, and unique talents of people with disabilities. Your support and advocacy provide opportunities for individuals with disabilities to discover strengths, find their voice, and make choices to thrive in an inclusive community.

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