In one moment, Tisha Takazawa’s life would never be the same. After suffering a brain injury from a car accident at the age of 21, she was forced to re-learn everything from writing, to walking, to even talking. She lost a considerable amount of fine motor skills and the entire right side of her body became weak. She now lives with new physical challenges on a daily basis, but Tisha does not complain. She’s rather humbled by the opportunity to genuinely understand and deeply empathize with those she serves. Tisha has been working with people with disabilities and special needs at Easter Seals Hawaii for over 11 years.
As the Adult Day Health Program Manager in Hilo, Tisha wakes up every morning with gratitude in her thoughts and happiness in her heart: “Before starting with ESH, I wanted something where I could make more of a meaningful impact. I wanted a change, I felt a calling, and now I’ve fallen in love with the work that I do.” She has been instrumental in the growth of the program, having had started with just five participants to now helping serve over 82. Adult Day Services, intended to provide adults with stimulating environments, opportunities, and experiences through community-based settings and activities, promotes substantial growth among participants and the community alike:
“Our job is to make the community aware, to open their eyes a little at a time, and to show them that people with disabilities are just people, like you and me.”
Tisha recalled a time when a particular gym owner in the community only addressed the staff member accompanying two participants and questioned: “so what can’t they do?” His blatant disregard for the two individuals was not of malicious intent; however, its impact was nevertheless felt. After about five succeeding interactions, the very first thing the owner did was address the participants directly, look at their faces, shake their hands, and ask for their names. This type of transformation exemplifies why Tisha believes the work Easter Seals Hawaii does is so important. Without it, bridging that gap – getting people with disabilities integrated, understood, and accepted within the community – seems unattainable.
Tisha is driven, however, to make a positive change. She embodies that which Easter Seals Hawaii aspires to do every day: change lives with Aloha. After experiencing such discouragement and despair on a personal level, she realized that despite all she had lost, in the end, she really had everything to gain – and remains thankful for all that she has:
“I look forward to coming to work, seeing the participants every day, enjoying their progress and happiness. It’s amazing what people can accomplish when they’re given the chance. [The participants] teach us all a lesson about what’s really important in life. And for that reason, Easter Seals Hawaii is just a good place to be.”