Taken from Summit Update                                                                                                                                                       January 2019

I remember my first experience with Reaction4Inclusion (R4I) like it was yesterday! Although, that was over three years ago now! When I got to the first summit I attended, I knew no one, but somehow, I felt SO at home. It was at that summit that I knew I had to be a part of this movement. So the following year, I recruited a friend to join me at the event, and together, we developed and delivered a Community Change Project with the support of our school (Grey Highlands Secondary), South East Grey Support Services (an organization in our community) and Community Living Ontario. We created so many opportunities to build stronger connections in our school and encourage a greater sense of community through this experience. Having seen the results of our efforts has shown our team that we, as young people, really CAN make a difference!

I never used to have much faith in myself; or the world for that matter. Today, I trust that the passion that youth around the world carry will help us form a more authentic and united world.

As a person who does not have a disability, I have gained so much confidence, passion, and the experience needed to support my friends to advocate for themselves. In addition, I myself have learned how I want to use my own voice to affect change. R4I, and the amazing people that I’ve met along the way, have become my second family and this experience has changed my life in ways that are unfathomable. I can never say it enough, but I am so grateful to have met and worked with all of the wonderful people throughout my experience, and I wanted to say that all of the work put into this movement really is making an impact!

So to anyone who may be considering attending this year’s summit or doing a change project; just do it! The possibilities are endless!

By Ashlyn Fairbanks