Partners in PolicymakingPartners in Policymaking




Thirteen families met with a U.S. House member to discuss health care reform.

We were named foster family of the year by our county. I have served on the state early intervention committee.


We designed a curriculum about disability awareness. The slide show depicts children and families who are differently abled. The impact has increased understanding among nurses, social workers, administrators, parents, and teachers.

Over the past year, Chris had spent a good part of his school day in regular classrooms and has begun to use facilitated communications with assistance from the school staff. Tested two years earlier, Chris scored a 28 on an I.Q. test. The latest evaluation, using facilitated communications, resulted in an estimated score of 133.

Sixth grade camp is something everyone looks forward to when in elementary school. This anticipation is also felt by the juniors and seniors that are the camp counselors for the week. It is a great time to spend with old friends and graduating classmates. Luckily for me, I made a new friend at camp, when I was a counselor. He wasn't a senior leaving for college; he wasn't even in high school. He was a sixth grader with Down's syndrome and a heart as big as his smile.

Ti is a round, red faced kid who loves to eat and play basketball. Unable to care for himself, Ti has trouble speaking, has only basic motor skills and needs someone to take him to the restroom. Because of this, I was apprehensive of the amount of attention and guidance I would need to give Ti. However, I believed that he deserved a great sixth grad camp experience, so I took him under my wing and kept a constant eye on him.

Through the week, Ti was unable to participate in activities to the extent that his classmates could. Yet he kept trying and did so with a smile on his face. Whether it was tie-dying shirts or marching through streams looking for frogs, the heart and determination that Ti showed was contagious and spread to not only his friends but to the camp counselors, including myself.

The most inspiring moment that I experienced while working with Ti was when he managed to climb the rock wall. The sixth graders were looking forward to getting their chance to scramble to the top of the monstrous 40 foot wall all week; Ti was no exception. After watching his peers clamber the rock wall, Ti decided that it was his turn. Not once did he question his ability to scale the wall, but rather suited up and walked over to it. At first I was worried for Ti; I doubted his ability of even getting off the ground. Yet there he was, pulling himself up off the dirt and into the air. While Ti only managed to climb five feet, it was an enormous victory for both of us. He accomplished his goal, and I was taught a lesson: possibilities in life are endless with or without disabilities like Down's syndrome.

Working with Ti really opened my eyes to how blessed my life is, full of limitless potential to do whatever I want. When Ti climbed the rock wall, it was an exciting moment for both of us. I wondered, if Ti could accomplish that with all the adversity he faces, what could I do free of physical burdens?

Without his knowledge, Ti taught me how fortunate I am to live my life by my own standards. After I returned home from camp, I received a letter from Ti's mother thanking me for my work with her son. What his mother probably doesn't not know is that I am just as grateful I had the chance to help Ti and was able to learn all he had to teach me.

- Andy Edeburn, Senior Berkshire High School, Class of 2007

This was Andy's essay on his application to Miami University. His mother shared this with us the day after he was accepted.