Taken from Summit Update                                                                                                                                                    December 2018

I first heard about the Re: Action4Inclusion (R4I) Movement when I was in grade 10. One of my vice principals, at the time, called me and invited me to attend the annual conference that year. She thought that I would be a good fit because of my experience in leadership roles and my advocacy work within my school. I have had a lot of practice advocating for people with disabilities because of my stepbrother who has an intellectual disability.

I didn’t know it at the time, but my first annual conference in 2015 would not only be life changing but it would also open up a world of opportunities for me. I have travelled across Ontario and to Florida for conferences with R4I, and they opened my eyes to a global conversation on inclusion that I am now a part of. I have also had the pleasure of hosting two annual leadership summits and sharing my story as a speaker at one of them. I always had a voice, but these opportunities strengthened my confidence to use my experience to inform and inspire others and I realized I am not alone. 

The movement has helped me grow as a person and citizen. I am more confident and now I know how to use my voice to shift perspectives and influence decision makers. When I first joined the movement, I didn’t like to use my voice to create change. The adult allies of R4I have made me realize how much impact my voice can have and why I should use it. I have had the chance to make a difference in my community by leading a community change project initiative that sparked conversations and challenged perceptions of disability. I have also made long-lasting friendships with fellow youth leaders in the movement and I still talk to those friends often. My journey with R4I has been absolutely amazing, and I am very grateful for all the opportunities it has given me over the three and a half years I have been a part of it.

I encourage everyone to attend this year’s conference and join this movement! I am excited to welcome all the new leaders in March! Ashlyn and I are hosting a workshop, and we encourage you to sign up!

COMMUNITY BUILDING: UNPACKING THE MEANING OF COMMUNITY is a workshop that will an opportunity to learn more about what it is like to be a change agent and ways you can look after yourself when trying to juggle a busy schedule. 

I hope to see you there!