Advocating for Students with Disabilities

UHS junior, Gracie Guthrie, participated in a video that advocates for inclusion of students with disabilities. This is in support of Pennsylvania House Bill 726 – The Disability Inclusive Curriculum Act. A new house bill regarding inclusion of disabilities education in the schools.   State representative Joe Hohenstein speaks in the video that also includes Gracie and a few other students. The organization Disability Equality in Education (DEE) focuses on reducing disability stigma by bringing disability equality, pride, and history into education.

We asked Gracie about her experience with this project.
Why is the topic of student disabilities important to you?
The topic of student disabilities is extremely important to me because I feel as if it is not addressed enough. It isn’t always brought up within schools and families and children don’t know how to approach those who are “different” from them, so they may not speak to them or interact with them. It is vital for these students to know that other students’ differences should not be viewed negatively because diversity must be embraced instead of feared.

How did you become involved with Disability Equality in Education?
I have always tried to use my voice and platforms for positive social influence and to address topics that are important to me and to society as a whole. My close family-friend, Sharon Pennock, is an activist for equality who inspires me greatly, and she let me know that I could be included in this video, so I jumped at the opportunity.

What are your thoughts on being in the PA House video?
I feel honored to be included in the PA House video. I want my voice to reach as many people as possible in an attempt to inspire change and to move toward equality. I want to get more comfortable with public speaking so I can continue to try to influence others in positive ways.

What do you hope changes in schools by introducing this bill?
Through the introduction of this bill, I hope that children in schools will become more inclusive to others and that they will be more understanding. Most of all, I hope that students will begin to embrace differences instead of fearing them. Students are some of the most influential individuals in the world, and because young people will soon be leaders in the world, it’s important that they expand their horizons and try to understand and include all of their peers. This will lead the world in a more accepting and loving direction, which is what everyone needs.

To learn more follow the Facebook page @SupportPAHB726 or visit www.disabilityequalityeducation.org.

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