By Ian Bush

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Philadelphia is celebrating those who live with intellectual disabilities — and their caregivers. Among those honored at an awards ceremony yesterday in Center City was one woman who’s dedicated her life to the cause.

After 34 years on the job, Kathy Sykes is retiring as director of the city’s Intellectual Disability Services.

“It’s hard to even put into words how rewarding it is,” Sykes said. “I’ve seen remarkable change in individuals, in the community that we’re living in, the acceptance, the opportunities — it’s phenomenal.”

The work, though, isn’t done.

“If you’re an employer, really think about hiring someone with an intellectual disability. They can be some of the most productive workers person can have.”

Arthur Evans, Jr. is commissioner of the city Department of Behavioral Health.

“One individual who was working in a grocery store bagging, but now she is actually helping that grocery store to raise money to help other people.”

Potential realized. Sykes has seen it too.

“I see people here who lived in an institution — now they’re living in community, living with support, some are married, some have children, some have jobs,” she said.

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