Tyrese & Felicia

Without equity, people with disabilities, like myself, can’t be fully included in society. A lot of the things we need aren’t considered pressing.” This is the reality for Tyrese, an 18-year-old INCLUDEnyc Project Possibility participant and high school student who has cerebral palsy, dyscalculia, and dysgraphia.

Tyrese’s entire academic career has been hampered by a lack of equity. Although Tyrese was told that his high school was “barrier-free,” his physical therapy sessions occurred in the school’s bathroom, his occupational therapy took place in a hallway, and his lunches couldn’t be held in the school cafeteria because his wheelchair didn’t fit through the doorway, preventing Tyrese from joining his friends.

While his school may have legally qualified as accessible, it did not treat Tyrese equally. Tyrese’s mother had to fight for everything he needed. As she explained, “Everyone has to fight for what they want. Not everyone has to also fight for what they need.” INCLUDEnyc helped them fight for both.

Tyrese joined Project Possibility as he was preparing to graduate because his high school didn’t have a program to help students with disabilities identify college options. After reviewing his test scores and transcripts, INCLUDEnyc’s youth educator believed Tyrese could consider four-year colleges, so together they started making plans for his future. Our educator fought for the assistive technology, supports, and services Tyrese needed. She also found an internship at the Brooklyn District Attorney’s office that aligned with his long-term career goals, then helped him apply to it, which led to a paid position last summer. And, as Tyrese started to explore accessible colleges, she joined him on campus tours and assisted with the application process. Today, Tyrese has been accepted to his first choice, NYU, and will begin in the fall on a full ride.

“INCLUDEnyc is in my corner, no matter what,” Tyrese explained. “They really want me to succeed and be the best I can be.”

Tyrese’s mother couldn’t be happier for her son. “If you had asked me a couple years ago what Tyrese was going to do after high school, I would have had no idea. Now, the sky’s the limit.”