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White House Honors Young Disability ‘Champions’


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As the nation marks the anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, the White House is honoring eight “next generation leaders” in the disability community.

During a ceremony Thursday to commemorate the twenty-third anniversary of the ADA, Obama administration officials lauded the young leaders — some of whom are still college students — as “Champions of Change.”

“These everyday heroes are an inspiration to so many, including myself,” said Valerie Jarrett, a senior adviser to the president, who noted that one of the things that made the honorees stand out is how much they’ve accomplished at such a young age. “Our champions embody the spirit of the ADA and many of them have never known a world without it.”

Hailing from across the country, the honorees have disabilities ranging from autism to hearing impairment, paralysis and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

The eight included Paralympic medalist Anjali Forber-Pratt; Zach Garafalo who created a mentoring program for young people with disabilities; Zoe Gross who established an annual day of mourning to pay tribute to people with disabilities killed by their caregivers; Andrew Phillips, the National Association of the Deaf’s policy counsel; Anupa Iyer who founded a self-advocacy group for those with psychiatric disabilities; Desiree Moore who works to support young people with disabilities; as well as disability rights activists Lydia Brown and Ki’tay Davidson.

The event, held on the eve of the official anniversary of the ADA on Friday, was part of a regular Champions of Change series at the White House, which is designed to highlight leaders in a different sector each week.

During a similar event last year, the Obama administration recognized individuals who have used their expertise in science, technology, engineering and math, collectively known as STEM, to improve the lives of those with disabilities.

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Comments (2 Responses)

  1. Emma says:

    Just watched the live stream of this event and it was wonderful! I’d love to share with friends and coworkers – does anyone know if the video will be posted on the White House website later on? Thanks.

  2. RC says:

    This was a super event to recognize the young disability” Champions”. I am a student with DC Advocacy Partners. We are being trained to advocate for our disabled family member or self-advocacy. DC Advocacy Partners has a beautiful, knowledgeable and caring staff. They are exposing us to a top level of leadership training through constructive homework, world class disability administrators and inspiring disability community organization speakers. We have meet Ms. Zoe Gross who spoke to us about her healing group. She is an exceptional person and it is so cool she is among those honored. Thank you! President Obama.

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