Senior year of high school is an exciting and occasionally nerve-wracking time for students and parents alike.
Students grapple with a long list of possibilities for the future. However there is one population of graduates whose opportunities are limited and needs overlooked: graduates with special needs.
I attended the annual Families Helping Families of Southwest Louisiana education and empowerment conference with a friend who is the mother of an 18-year-old student with special needs who will be graduating this May. We discussed with state and local organization representatives that although there is a transition where more businesses are working with this group, the options are more limited in Southwest Louisiana compared to other areas of the state such as Lafayette.
Our community is filled with people whose potential is still underutilized. People with special needs such as my friend's son are eager to work in environments where they are treated as colleagues and not segregated to workshops.
As a community, there is something we can do. Recognize that all people deserve to be treated with kindness and respect. Strive to be inclusive of persons with disabilities. Get to know those with disabilities as people not defined by their challenges. People who have so much to offer our Better Southwest Louisiana.