Leigh Shines in Social Situations and Excels in her Career

Leigh swinging

When Leigh joined PTI in December of 2009, she was looking for an outlet to explore new activities outside of home, to feel less anxious in social situations and to meet friends.  More than five years later, observing Leigh at PTI events, she is like a force of nature, bouncing around and talking with nearly everyone in the room.  She recently planned her 30th birthday party, which was attended by many PTI participants, as well as other friends and family.

Before becoming a PTI  participant, she experienced anxiety in group settings with new people. “Stepping out of my comfort zone was tough”, Leigh said about interacting with others, “I have a tendency to talk very fast when I am nervous, which made it difficult to connect with people.”  Also, some attributes of people’s personalities sometimes irritate her and this prevented her from opening up to new people in the past.  Now, she said, “My patience and tolerance for others has improved…Being a part of PTI has helped me realize when I’m getting to that point of no return, know how to calm down and bring myself back.”

Leigh has works in direct support in group homes for adults with developmental disabilities through St. Louis Arc.  She has been in her position for seven years and is able to apply the skills learned in her job to interacting with others in PTI.  She says, “Everyone has human emotions and reactions to things, sometimes they are just expressed differently.  It is important for me to know not only what a person is saying, but how they are saying it and what their body language is like, in order to understand them.”

One of the ways Leigh has learned to express herself and relax is through taking photos, she actually has a Bachelor’s Degree in Photography.  She developed an interest in the art form while on a vacation with her family in Yosemite National Park when she was younger.  While she does not see photography as a potential career path for herself, she has shared her talents with Pathways to Independence.  Her images appear on PTI’s tribute cards thanking donors for making contributions in memory or in honor of someone.  Leigh enjoys photographing nature and landscapes.  One of her favorite places to take pictures is at the Missouri Botanical Garden.  She also likes to photograph her friends, family and pets.

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A few of Leigh’s photographs