As a parent to Jack and through my professional work, I live with the implications of student segregation everyday. As a result, I push for systemic policy and cultural changes for better outcomes for the more than 250,000 students with disabilities in New York City.
“As a swim instructor and manager at other companies, I was disheartened by how low the expectations were for children with disabilities. I founded REACHswim on the principle that children with disabilities can be trained like anyone else,” said Florencio Flores Palomo, Executive Director & Founder of REACHswim.
“Extreme Kids is an open, welcoming place. We believe society can learn a lot from the children and families coming into our space. Kids with disabilities shouldn’t have to fit into society’s mold. Instead, classrooms and the broader community should be more open to neurodiversity,” says Executive Director Caitlin Cassaro.
This Thanksgiving, as I reflect back on my time with INCLUDEnyc, I’m filled with so much pride and gratitude. I’ve been with INCLUDEnyc for 26 of its 35 years, witnessing the struggles and triumphs. I’ve watched us grow from fewer than 10 staff members to over 30 today, with every one of those individuals helping us to reach more families than I could have imagined when I first embarked on this journey.
We testify today to highlight the need for better quality and delivery of school transportation services for more than 100,000 students with disabilities in New York City. We believe there is a direct relationship between students with disabilities safely getting to school and home each day with the extent to which they make educational progress.