Track The Movement Winter 2021
I’m excited to introduce myself to you, my name is Mikayla. I am currently interning at Community Living Ontario as part of my last semester in the Child and Youth Worker program at Loyalist College. However, I am not new to the Community Living or Re:Action4Inclusion (R4I) communities. I have been involved with R4I since 2015 when I attended my first annual conference in grade ten.
One of the questions I have been asked many times over the past five years is “why?” Why do I do this? Why do I put so much energy into a movement like this when I could be hanging out with friends or watching Netflix? I am passionate about this work because my why is very important to me. I have a brother who lives with Dravet Syndrome. Dravet Syndrome is a rare form of epilepsy that significantly affects brain development; because of this, he has an intellectual disability.
My brother is one of the kindest and sweetest souls I know. Unfortunately, like many people with different abilities, he doesn’t always get treated fairly or have the same opportunities in life that I have. Some of these are because of things we have to do to protect his health and keep him safe. However, sometimes this is caused by the lack of understanding and empathy in our society. My goal is to help educate as many people as possible and open as many doors as possible for my brother. I don’t mean he can’t do this for himself because he is more than capable of advocating for himself. Everyone needs an ally, someone to have your back so people take you seriously. That’s my role as his sister.
My two biggest passions are inclusive education and building opportunities for social inclusion in the school community. My family is lucky because my brother attends a fantastic school with great staff. The students are compassionate and inclusive, and they actively ensure that my brother is included in school events and activities. Unfortunately, though, that is not the case for many people who have a disability or who are seen as different. I believe that everyone deserves a quality education that helps them reach goals academically and also grow as a person. Every student should be given the opportunity to be a part of their school community in a meaningful way. Everyone should be able to try out for sports or be on student council or in the school play. Not just because it’s the right thing to do but because people recognize that everyone has a valuable contribution to make. People should be seen beyond their differences and celebrated for who they are as a person.
My “why?” is my love for my brother. My “why?” is for everyone who has doors close in their face because of our society’s lack of understanding. My “why?” is to create a better world that I am proud to live in, one person at a time. My “why?” – is Braedan.