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This is the story of Michael Kennedy's life. Born in 1960 with significant disabilities, he describes his early experiences living in three different institutions for the mentally retarded and how he had to become his own advocate if he was going to survive. He soon realized that, unlike most of the others in institutions, he could make his voice heard. He had to speak up to help himself and other individuals with developmental disabilities to learn about their rights, and how to prevent themselves from becoming trapped forever within complicated state bureaucracies. After moving out of the last institution into various types of supported living settings, Michael describes how he found new friendships, went to school, got a "real" job, and began to aspire to having full control of his own life. "I want to let people know how the state system used to be and that institutions must never be reopened." This is a book about hard work, resilience, and hope. It is an extraordinary life story, but told by an ordinary man with a clear mission to help others like himself.

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