Jul 12, 2023

Young Adults Advocate for Disability Rights in Washington DC during LD Day of Action

From June 12-14, Eye to Eye National and NCLD brought over 59 neurodivergent young leaders from all over the country with learning differences to gather in Washington, DC for LD Day of Action. During the event, they shared their stories and challenged Congress to take action on critical policy issues facing students with learning disabilities. This year, young advocates focused on the need to get Congressional support for the RISE Act, which provides students with disabilities access to much-needed resources in higher education. 

Participants advocated for solutions that improve accessibility, pushed for an increase in educational funding, championed investment in research and stressed the need for strengthening school climates. Throughout the event young adults engaged in over 20 hours of training and 73 congressional meetings.

The event kicked off on Monday, June 12, with four roundtable discussions with the U.S. Department of Education representatives. Each roundtable was facilitated by young adults from NCLD and Eye to Eye. They focused on different topics and a different representatives attended each one.

Seven students gather at table to discuss LD Day of action

Deputy Assistant Secretary Katy Neas joined a roundtable focused on access to safe, welcoming, and inclusive environments, especially concerning the mental health of young people with disabilities. Deputy Director Dr. David Cantrell joined one that focused on high-quality transition services for individuals with disabilities to be successful in postsecondary opportunities. Deputy Assistant Secretary Seth Galanter’s roundtable focused on Protecting and ensuring the rights of students with disabilities. Dr. Jackie Buckley and Dr. Sarah Brasiel focused on enhancing inclusive research for individuals with learning disabilities.

Each roundtable included 15 young leaders and one young adult facilitator who presented questions to the department staff. The questions prompted discussions about school mental health practices, student safety, and support for students with disabilities.

Congressperson speaks to young adults in Washington D.C. during LD Day of Action

The second day was filled with meetings urging members of Congress to advocate for funding, accessibility, mental health, and research to improve learning experiences for neurodiverse students. Representative Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR), Representative Ayanna Pressley (D-07) and Representative Erin Houchin (R-IN) answered questions and shared insight in a room full of advocates eager to share their lived experiences.

Seven students gather at table to discuss LD Day of action

NCLD and Eye to Eye wrapped up LD Day of Action with a discussion on student mental health that focused on students with disabilities. The event featured a research deep dive from clinicians and researchers in psychiatry and education, a discussion with young adult leaders, and a roadmap for the future focused on policy and research.

Forty plus young adults standing on the stairs of congress in Washington DC

Empowering young people to advocate for pressing issues related to school funding, accessibility, mental health and well-being, and research was a primary goal for LD Day of Action. By hosting meetings with Congress, the Department of Education, and members of Congress, young leaders from all over the country wereraised awareness about issues impacting neurodiverse students.

During the three-day event, nearly 40K ND Champions watched their journey through a targeted email campaign and social media outreach. 103 of those ND champions advocated from home by reaching out to their members of Congress to supportthe RISE Act.

LD Day of Action was just the beginning. Join us as we stand up for the rights of disabled youth. #BeboLD with us and push for change. Make your voice heard and let Congress know you stand with the Neurodiverse community by asking your representative to support the RISE Act.

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