In January 2010, twenty young people, with and without disabilities, flew from various locations across the United States to meet each other for the very first time in Washington, DC.
We come from diverse backgrounds and places, but we share some common ideas. We believe that diversity makes us stronger, and that discrimination breaks us down. We know that hatred is a learned behavior, and that we can all strive to rise above fear and prejudice. We understand firsthand what we gain when everyone is included in our schools and our communities, and how much we lose when anyone is left out. We are united in our commitment to a world where people of various abilities have equal opportunities.
The youth who met that January wanted to see a change. In just one weekend, we designed a campaign in hopes of bringing about that change. Through this campaign, we hope to raise awareness about inclusion, provide opportunities for youth to share their ideas about inclusion, and promote inclusive practices in schools and communities. We want to encourage the acceptance, respect, and full inclusion of all youth, including those with disabilities, in schools and communities.
We think that people should not have to fit a mold in order to fit into a classroom or a community. We want the world to abandon its perceptions of normalcy, and to learn to embrace and appreciate diversity among individuals. We want to show people to see that real inclusion can only happen by bringing together diverse groups of people and ensuring that everyone is supported, understood, and respected.
We are an initiative designed by young people to promote the acceptance, respect, and full inclusion of youth with disabilities in schools and communities. Our work is driven by a Youth Inclusion Taskforce and supported by a coalition of youth-serving partner organizations.