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Independent Living News & Policy from the National Council on Independent Living

On Meringues and Milestones: Thoughts on NCIL’s Youth Pledge

By Jaggar DeMarco, NCIL Summer Intern

I love anniversaries because, as a child, it meant dessert. Every time my parent’s wedding anniversary was approaching, I eagerly awaited an oversized éclair or one of those fruit tarts. You know, those pastries beautifully arranged with the best fruit specifically chosen to top it. I ate them with the vigor only reserved for five year olds with bigger eyes than their stomach. I admit that those days where simpler. I would graciously award myself with sugar just because of a major milestone in someone else’s life.

Jaggar DeMarcoBut now as a college student, I award myself with pints of ice cream for making it through an exam. Since overindulgent desserts weren’t reserved for anniversaries, I needed a new way to think about them. Fortunately, as an intern with NCIL, I was able to find a new meaning for anniversaries.

This year we are celebrating the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act. As a 21 year old individual with a disability, I have grown up since the implementation of this historic legislation. While not always aware of it, there were great leaders of the disability rights movement that made all of this possible. And now, I feel, as if, it is my turn to learn the fundamentals of our movement and eventually take charge.

That is why it has been such an awarding experience working on the ADA Youth Pledge for NCIL. The theme of this year’s Annual Conference is Generation ADA: Rise Up! It is our belief that the generation of young advocates born since the passage of the ADA need to be present at our conference. This can only assure that we can both celebrate the past 25 years and catalyze a future.

The ADA Youth Pledge‘s mission is to make sure that our young leaders make it to this year’s conference. We are asking for member organizations and allies to make this pledge and post it to their social media accounts. By having a cross-generational movement, we can ensure a sustainable future.

So now anniversaries mean a lot of different things to me. They mean celebrating the past and reflecting on our struggles. Anniversaries mean looking forward to the next great milestone and making sure we have the tools necessary to make it there. But if anyone wants to share one of those desserts with me, find me. I know a place.

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