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This week, in honor of Inclusive Schools Week, the National Down Syndrome Society is sharing real stories about how inclusive schools have made a difference in the lives of families of a child with Down syndrome.

My son, Tyler, attends a small charter school in a more rural area where understanding full inclusion has been a challenge. I was blessed with a scholarship to the NDSS Leadership Summit in Washington, D.C. last fall. While there, I met the NDSS Taishoff Inclusive Education Fellow, Sara Jo Soldovieri. This summit experience helped me see the future in a new way. It was time to tackle the inclusion issues at school.

After months of work with Sara Jo, for the first time, Tyler has IEP goals for inclusive education with his peers in the regular education subjects. We are so thankful for the help and support NDSS has given to our family throughout this process. The best part is knowing we never have to do this alone again. We still have a way to go in breaking new ground at our school. However, we also know everything we do not only helps Tyler, but also the students who come behind him. As a mom who has always tried hard to advocate for my child, I am learning so much about real inclusion and the benefit to our special kids. NDSS and Sara Jo helped me see the possibility of more. I may have fought hard for him before, but now I am fighting smarter.

Thank you NDSS for giving families like us the free service and support we need to help our children achieve all they are really capable of. You are changing lives and creating a bright future for children with Down syndrome!

Gina Kennedy, Minnesota
Son Tyler, 14

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Originally published: December 7, 2017
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