Student Teaches Legislators about Inclusive Higher Education
Another young self-advocate I met during Disability Day on the Hill shares her experiences.
By Caitlyn Ford
About the Author
Caitlyn Ford is a first-year student at Lipscomb University in the IDEAL program. She is from Hendersonville, TN. Caitlyn went to Hendersonville High School, where she ran track and had a lot of friends. She really likes being at Lipscomb, because the people there are helping me become a kindergarten teacher. She also manages the girls basketball team on-campus, and she gets to travel with them to their games across the country! Caitlyn says: Go Bisons!
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Wednesday, Feb. 8, was Disability Day on the Hill. That was a professional, action-packed day! I spoke at the first meeting with Sen. Ferrell Haile, who represents the area that I’m from, about employment opportunities for individuals with disabilities. That meeting went really well. We then went to our next meeting with Rep. Marc Gravitt, who is the representative for my fellow student Jason Rogers.
After that, we went and met with Rep. Courtney Rogers, who was a very nice representative. She gave me and Jason a special medallion with an eagle and three stars on it and a Tennessee Blue Book. The Tennessee Blue Book contains information about and photos of each state representative and senator as well as Tennessee history. That was my favorite part of the day. And she was my favorite person, and that might be because she is from Hendersonville like me. The last meeting was with Sen. Bo Watson, who is the senator from my friend’s district.
We went to the Capitol to express our feelings about issues of unfairness that we have experienced as people with a disability. We also explained what the IDEAL program was about. IDEAL stands for Igniting the Dream of Education and Access at Lipscomb. Our program includes learning adult living skills like learning to cook, buying and renting houses and employment skills. I am also in two University classes which are The Story of the Church and Primary Education. I meet one of my peer mentors before the class, and we walk to the class. But I’m pretty independent, so I like to meet my peers in our class instead.
Disability Day on the Hill was a great day, and I am happy I got to be a part of it.