Kat Davis and self-advocate Zack Sideek moved the mic around the room to hear from half a dozen family members and self-advocates talking about their experiences with acceptance, diversity, and finding jobs. A few self-advocates spoke about their experiences in the workplace and how, “[companies] don’t know what to do with us, so we remain forgotten.” Other self-advocates spoke, some assisted by their parents, about their experiences with different local businesses that made them feel welcomed and included, while one summed up the main message of acceptance and diversity perfectly saying, “we have a lot to learn from each other.”
Co-founders of WIN Jim Mancini and Raphael Bernier, and their UW colleagues and researchers Jill Locke and Hala Annabi shared the education program and training for businesses to help them become more welcoming and their on-going research on attitude change and best practices. Kimberly Corrigan and Tammy Savage launched the WIN Online Community platform (soon to become a downloadable app) for those with differences and their families and friends to find WIN businesses. Beth Knox, the executive director of the 2018 Special Olympics USA Games, (in Seattle from July 1st to the 6th) spoke about the goal for Seattle to be a “model city of inclusion” when the games come—a challenge laid out earlier in the year by the President of Microsoft, Brad Smith. In my interview with her afterwards, Knox talked about what the success of [WIN] looked like to her saying, “through the lense of the Special Olympics, if the families of the athletes feel like they are supported and welcomed and have access, that’s success to me.”
A Video of Maria Cantwell supporting the initiative was followed by keynote speaker and King County Executive, Dow Constantine, who delivered a rousing speech about his partnership with The Arc, WIN, and his focus on King County being a pioneer city of acceptance for all no matter what gender, race, religion, disability. He made a strong ethical, economic and civic case for inclusion.