• Meg O'Connell

Disability Inclusion:Teach Your Kids Early.

Updated: Jan 11, 2019

My niece Annalise, who is 12, is a kid who embraces others, especially those with disabilities.  She understands that disability just means different.  I would love to take credit for this but it is not because of me, it is because of her mother, Laura.  She began introducing inclusion at a young age.  I remember seeing the American Girl doll wheelchair in Annalise’s room several years ago — you likely saw the picture in a Facebook post.

Why is this important?  Because inclusion starts early and often.  Today Annalise plays on a soccer team with a young teen who has schizencephaly (this teammate was recently the subject of an Apple accessibility video, which features the soccer team), she adores her niece with Down Syndrome, she is buddies with a boy who suffered a TBI, and twice she has grown out her hair to donate to Children With Hair Loss.  At almost 13 years old, she intuitively knows that disability is a part of life but it does not define you.

Recently, Annalise was assigned to give a speech about her hero for her 6th grade oratorical competition.  Annalise chose to speak about her mother’s dear friend Corinne, whose young daughter Chloe passed away from Spinal Muscular Atrophy in 2008.  Annalise was only four years old when she met Chloe, but it was her first exposure to a child with a disability.  That first lesson of inclusion and acceptance has stayed with her to this day.  Please enjoy Annalise’s speech below to learn more about Chloe (who would turn 10 on July 6!), her enduring legacy, and her heroic mom, Corinne.