ABI’s Think Inclusive College (West Coast Coalition), regional Adult Transition Summit: College and Career Success for All, on Friday, April 5, 2019, brought together 130 friends of inclusive college for a full day of information, networking, and advocacy to create powerful, positive change to open more doors to inclusive college options for students with intellectual disability.
The event coordinator, Jamie Burch, and Angela Jarvis-Holland, NW Disability Support Executive Director, welcomed participants and shared the organization’s inclusive college work and accomplishments through the Think Inclusive College (West Coast Coalition), beginning in 2009 through today. Highlights included partnership to create Oregon’s first 4-year program at Portland State University in 2016 and commitment to youth leadership, through their inclusive Social Justice Youth Program, for youth 16-25 with or without disability, which drives their work for action. If people didn’t already know where they landed from the all born (in) inclusive education conference tagline, Support inclusion; Reject Segregation, it was clear that this event was driven by the impacted disability community, guided by the Think College best-practices on Building Inclusive Campus Communities: A Framework for Inclusion, and rooted in the values of the Developmental Disabilities Bill of Rights (see video) findings by Congress that disability does not diminish rights.
The morning keynote, Candace Pelt, with the Oregon Department of Education, started off the day in the right direction, with a message of inclusive education for all. Then the Why Not Me? youth track began and offered five workshops, and the Real Lives and Communities parent and professional track began offering ten workshops to choose from. At lunch Participating constituents filled out postcards with personal messages to their legislators as a call to action. Requests and messages of equity included: “Support funding for inclusive higher education opportunities for students with intellectual disability.”; “Change employment rates for individuals with disabilities from 17% to 65% with inclusive post-secondary education.”; “A college opportunity for students with intellectual disability is not an equal opportunity unless it is inclusive.”; and, “Do we want to be fighting the inclusive education battle in higher education that we are fighting now in K-12 or should college just be available for every interested student?”. Toward the end of the day participants broke up into state groups (Oregon, Washington, and Idaho) to strategize and plan action steps to increase inclusive higher education options in the northwest region. The afternoon closed with a keynote by the youth who shared their dreams that included inclusive college, employment, and living a full, meaningful life based on their interests, passions, and goals.
Thank You Speakers, Sponsors, and Attendees
The national and local speakers who devoted their time to this event deserve many thanks. They provided the most current best-practices information and generated motivation that evoked participant’s power. National leaders including Stephanie Smith-Lee (National Down Syndrome Congress), Jenny Stonemeier (APSE), Joe Marrone (Institute for Community Inclusion), Sharon Lewis (former Commissioner of the Admin. on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities), Lori Cooney (Institute for Community Inclusion), and Debra Hart (Think College National) shared their expertise. Local speakers included Transition Network Facilitators, a Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor, a Policy Analyst, and a Pre-employment Transition Coordinator, an Office of DD Services Employment Specialist, Highline College staff and school district partner, Portland State University staff, Washington State University staff, and Social Justice Youth Program coordinators and a participant.
Recognition of sponsors was found throughout the day on posters hung on the walls, in the opening presentation, and on event materials. Sponsors were thanked for their generosity by supporting this event to be a great one. Key sponsors included Highline College, Multnomah County, and Think College national. Event sponsors are important and support the work of the Think Inclusive West Coast Coalition!
Those who participated in the parent/professional track and youth track also deserve thanks. Thank you to everyone who attended! NW Disability Support is pleased with the turn out and proud of the feedback that has been received. The Think Inclusive College (West Coast Coalition) has strength in numbers and having the right people at the table is critical to continue the momentum. Together the inclusive college movement in the NW region can grow to offer additional inclusive college options.
Call to Action
Your feedback about the event helps improve the work. If you attended the Summit and didn’t get a chance to fill out the afternoon overall evaluation please provide your feedback here. If you filled out the pre-evaluation during registration and would like to provide post-evaluation information please share your information here.
If you didn’t attend the Summit you can still get involved. Oregon and Washington strategic state inclusive college planning groups will meet next month in May. To join this work to create high expectations, and increase inclusive, equitable higher education opportunities for college students with intellectual disability in the northwest contact NW Disability Support at 503-238-0522.
You, the coalition of the willing, can use your experience and expertise to join the coalition to make change. Show your support through signing up to volunteer and/or making a donation. You can also visit our website abicommunity.org for more information. If you are on Facebook search for the Think Inclusive College (West Coast Coalition) and send a request to be added. Washington residents search for and request to join Think College Washington on Facebook. If you would like to send a message to your legislator about inclusive college click here to find their contact details with your address. Together we are stronger!