On a daily basis, children and youth with disabilities experience staring, whispers, name-calling, social exclusion, bullying, and outright discrimination – otherwise known as stigma.
They also face more isolation, bullying, poverty, as well as lower education and employment opportunities compared to their typically developing peers.
Too many people don’t fully understand what it means to have a disability. They might over-estimate the negative impact of disability, or underestimate how much those with disabilities value and enjoy their lives.
In August 2017, we launched a public awareness campaign called Dear Everybody that focused on challenging disability stigma and stereotypes. The campaign also encouraged people to take action to break down barriers that kids and youth with disabilities face each day.
With the support of Holland Bloorview, our kids shared their insights - in the form of an open letter to all Canadians - about what it is like to live with a disability. The letter begins,
Dear everybody, Not everybody with a disability looks like they have a disability.
In the letter, kids and youth also speak about how they wish to be treated and describe their experience of being excluded from conversations about their health, education, professional career and personal life.
By sharing these insights we can play a pivotal role in educating the public about the importance of building an inclusive and equitable society that includes young Canadians of all abilities.
To read more about the campaign, visit DearEverybody.ca.