As part of my MSW candidacy at the University of Denver I choose an internship with Valley Life for All. Valley Life for All is the organization I co-founded to promote opportunities for people with disabilities to participate in the community…not on the fringes. To accomplish this we are partnering with (or planning to partner with) our local nonprofits, schools, recreation centers, housing authorities and initiatives to make sure including people with disabilities is part of all community conversations.
My internship is around inclusive education, what it is and how can we promote it in our community. In our years of advocating for Alex and her education I have learned what inclusive education is not, and I have seen pockets of what it could be – but this has only been the one-off situations.
From my perspective what is lacking is an overall philosophy of including people with disabilities in an environment where they can succeed academically, socially and emotionally. Too often we heard “we do not have the resources to do that” and not often enough did we hear “sure, let’s try it”. Our school systems are just that – systems. We need to help our schools rethink what inclusion really means and to me that means learning as much as I can about success and what that looks like.
In my bookI talk about self-advocacy and how it was and is a very important part of preparing Alex for the future. She has learned to speak up for herself and believe if she works hard she can accomplish whatever she wants. Case in point – college. By way of background:
I don’t know what Alex’s answer to this would be, nor do I know if she wants to become an advocate – or is she even capable of this role. But I do know that if I do not expose her to opportunities she will never be able to make that decision herself. I have signed Alex up for the TASH conference as a self-advocate. Will she yearn for more? I know that this will not happen overnight…..only time will tell.
If you have not liked our page, it is a good way to stay on top of the ups and downs of college (and inclusive education) for a person with a development/intellectual disability. I have no idea what is going to happen….but I will share the good and the bad. Please click on “The Ordinary Life of an Extraordinary Girl” now.