INCLUDEnyc: Where Parents Can Turn

While some parents hire lawyers to navigate New York’s complex laws, most families don’t have the resources to do that. “Parents face so many barriers. They know what their child needs and receive pushback, when in reality, they have a legal right to those services. Where do we turn?” asked Nicole Meade, INCLUDEnyc Board Member.

“My son has very complex needs, so just navigating Medicaid and IEPs alone is a full-time job. It’s a struggle as a working parent and there’s no guide. INCLUDEnyc is there for parents,” Nicole said. “You don’t have to do this alone.”

Nicole values inclusion for her son and the larger New York community. “When I first thought about inclusion, I was focused on my son’s inclusion in general education classes. However, it’s even broader than that. It’s about kids and families creating relationships with people with disabilities. We want to be a meaningful part of your community, not just a token part.”

“When Barbara asked me to join the Board, there was no question about it,” Nicole said. She’s served for two years on the Board and is passionate about how INCLUDEnyc approaches its programs and events. “INCLUDEnyc looks at inclusion for young people with disabilities from every single angle--education, transition services, or including them in their own IEP services. Self-advocacy is a huge theme,” she said.

“I also really like the INCLUDEnyc events. Having a child with a disability is not easy. There’s a lot of sadness and hopelessness. However, when a parent comes to an event, disability is celebrated and differences are celebrated. You’re a part of an accepting, understanding and supportive community.”

Nicole encourages fellow parents to reach out to INCLUDEnyc. “INCLUDEnyc is a place where you can call and be helped. You can see your kid as a meaningful part of life at large, of community at large. You see that they are important and have a space in school and the workforce. There’s nothing more valuable than that,” she said.