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Talking about Disability and Planning for the Future

June 26, 2020
Community Voices
A young Black man is smiling proudly. He wear a black high school cap and robe for graduation.

Devin is celebrating a milestone accomplishment—his graduation from high school. “Looking back, I never would have thought how drastically my perspective could change. You start high school and you’re surrounded by people you don’t know. Those people unexpectedly become your best friends.”

Devin also couldn’t have predicted becoming a disability advocate. “At a school assembly, I talked about being on the spectrum and the challenges that I faced,” Devin recalled. “I remember so many other students came up to me after that. I learned how much better it is to be open about things.” Throughout his high school years, Devin served as a mentor to other students. 

Celebrating his graduation from Bard High School, though virtual, is an incredible achievement. “INCLUDEnyc helped me a lot with making decisions and not just about college,” Devin explained. “I was able to make good choices for my wellness, building my connections, and becoming more independent.”

“Devin’s one-on-one meetings with your educator Belinda were extremely helpful in helping Devin plan next steps. Belinda guided Devin through college  and financial aid applications. She still reaches out to check in and make sure everything is going well,” said Devin’s mom, Lisa. 

Devin, who has a creative streak, enjoys drawing, so much so, that he created his own comic. He’s headed to SUNY New Paltz to study computer science, which may help him bring together his love of art and tech through a career in animation or video game design. 

Devin is already making the most of his summer, including becoming politically active. “I’m trying to figure out how I can help during this time, so justice is served for lives wrongfully taken,” he said. Devin also is looking forward to visiting family, which has been infrequent during quarantine.  

“My hope for Devin is that he is an independent, educated, and successful man. He doesn’t let anything get in his way and he never views his disability in a negative light,” Lisa shared. 

“I told Devin to never give up and to always ask for support, even when he’s away at college. My hope is that more parents learn about INCLUDEnyc, so they know help is out there.” 

INCLUDEnyc’s Project Possibility program provides intensive support for youth who are transitioning into adult life. This program is made possible with lead funding from The Taft Foundation, Con Edison, and the J.E. & Z.B. Butler Foundation, among other funders.