Who could use a little good news? I know I could!
To start, last week, we welcomed 4 new members to the KIT Board of Directors, which is great news! Our board members are effective champions for inclusion. Here are 2 timely examples:
Inclusive Education News:
Those of you who have been around a while may remember when KIT board member and all-around “Wonder Woman” Beth Foraker and her son Patrick, then a high school senior, shared their journey to finding an inclusive college.
Patrick and Beth presenting at the KIT 20th Anniversary Symposium in December 2017.
Beth showed us the stats that there were a growing number of college programs for students with intellectual disabilities around the US, but NONE were in California. As an (almost) lifelong California resident, I find this unacceptable. Patrick ended up going to George Mason University in Virginia the next year. He thrived there, and Beth continued her advocacy for starting a movement of accessible and inclusive colleges here in California. And…..BIG NEWS!
With a $2.1M grant from the US Department of Education, the UC Davis Mind Institute and the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion will create an inclusive four-year college program with on-campus housing for students with intellectual disabilities. Thumbs up for this!!
The program will launch in Fall 2021 with 12 students and is likely to include people with autism, Down syndrome, fragile X syndrome and other neurodevelopmental disabilities. Our very own, Beth, is the co-director! I wish I could take a picture for you of the goosebumps I have while typing this paragraph. The plan is to replicate the UC Davis model across both the University of California and California State University systems. That is a massive, huge, BIG deal. Congrats, Beth!!
Inclusion Conference News:
In other inclusion-spreading news, Emily Ladau, one of our new board members and longtime friend of KIT, is headlining The Arc of Texas‘ popular Inclusion Works Conference. She’ll be keynoting at the end of October, and I wanted to give you advance notice in case you want to register. This is always a high-quality conference. Emily is a sought-after keynote speaker with tons of big conference credits to her name. Learn more about Emily’s work here.
Posing with Emily after co-presenting at the South by Southwest Education Conference in Austin, TX in 2018.
I am so encouraged that even in a time when we are all distanced from each other, advocacy for inclusion is still going strong and things are happening!