Youth Leadership

I Am Norm is for youth, by youth.
Meet our leaders:

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AZ

From a young age, AZ knew she wanted to make a differences for those with disabilities, AZ has Cerebral Palsy Non Verbal Learning disorder and anxiety. Despite all of this AZ tries her very best to advocate for those with disabilities.

How and when did you become involved with I Am Norm?

I became involved with I am Norm through Dan Habib. I joined the group Spring 2010.

If you were to describe yourself in one word what would that word be and why?

Smart. I am very intelligent and really love learning new things.

What do you like to do in your free time?

When AZ isn’t advocating for people with disabilities, she enjoys playing video games surfing the web and watching movies.

What is something you want everyone to know about you?

I have a blog about my life azisamazing.blogspot.com

cara

Cara

I just graduated from college summa cum laude with a degree in Education.  I’m hoping to start my master’s degree in Disability Studies at the CUNY School of Professional Studies in the spring. Right now I’m involved in a lot of different projects.  I blog for Teaching Tolerance, a project of the Southern Poverty Law Center that discusses diversity in education.  I run the You Know You Have CP When group on Facebook.  I’m the production assistant for KRUTCH, a short film that explores stereotypes around sexuality and disability.  Recently I co-founded the satirical Stomp Out Normalcy campaign and I’m having a blast with it, turning traditional disability narratives on their heads.  On top of all that, I’m looking for an actual steady job for the fall to keep me busy before grad school.

How and when did you become involved with I Am Norm?

 

I got involved with Norm because I was one of the 20 original youth leaders at the summit back in 2010.  It was an INCREDIBLE experience and one that I will never forget.  I made lifelong friends there.  Though I have fallen out of touch with many of the original leaders, I’m still regularly in touch with Nick, Kristin, and Tali, and somewhat in touch with Tia and Tyler.  My inclusion experiences in high school were……not the best, so I have a passion for making sure that kids with disabilities are included in the RIGHT way, not just plopped into a classroom with no supports.

 

If you were to describe yourself in one word what would that word be and why?

Creative. I constantly am coming up with all sorts of ideas. I love making things and tweaking them and making them perfect. If I’m bored, you’ll usually find me making SOMETHING, even if it doesn’t turn out well.

What do you like to do in your free time?

 

I write, a lot. I blog at http://www.thatcrazycrippledchick.blogspot.com. I’m currently in the process of revising my first novel and submitting it to publishers. I also love to sing and listen to music – my tastes in music are very flexible. Besides that, I’m obsessed with scifi, particularly Star Trek, Doctor Who, and Warehouse 13.

What is something you want everyone to know about you?

 

I talk a lot, but I actually have massive social anxiety around people, as well as a lot of other anxiety disorders and depression. I’m a huge advocate for more open dialogue about psychiatric disabilities (commonly referred to as mental illness) and reducing the stigma around all kinds of disabilities.

Kellie

Hello, I am Kellie ! I’m a current psychology major. I have been a member of Girl Scout Council of the Nation’s Capital for thirteen years and received the highest ranking award, the Gold Award. I was an original member of the I am Norm in 2010. I am an enthusiastic, determined, cheerleader, and I am Norm.

How and when did you become involved with I Am Norm?

 

My friend Shannon Babe Thomas from Girl Scout Council of the Nation’s Capital got me interested in this program and I proceeded with the 2010 campaign.  I have still loved it ever since!

If you were to describe yourself in one word what would that word be and why?

 

Comedian, like a comedian they make you laugh but they sometimes speak about issues that get you thinking.  I love to make people laugh and I think laughter is the best thing for the soul.  But I will make people laugh while discussing real issues.  It’s a way to make the environment lighter and more friendly.

What do you like to do in your free time?

 

In my free time I eat, sleep, and breathe cheerleading. I have been on a cheerleading team most of my life and I get personal enjoyment from competing in cheerleading competitions. Cheerleading is now my one true love.

What is something you want everyone to know about you?

I have a very engaging personality and love to have fun along with work! Also I love pink!

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Kristin

Kristin began working with people with disabilities at a young age. While in the third grade, she regularly went to help her peers in a self-contained special education classroom at her school during her lunch recess time. By the eighth grade, she began volunteering weekly for a program that provides equestrian therapy to individuals with disabilities, Stable Influence Charity Programs, which she still stays involved with (when in her hometown of Phoenix) today. In high school, she was a peer tutor for students with disabilities for two years, earning elective credit for attending general education classes with students with disabilities to help them be fully included. It was at this point that Dougherty became an advocate for inclusion, and she began attending many trainings and conferences on inclusive practices to learn more. She helped co-found a club at her high school to organize inclusive after-school and recreational activities for all students at her school, which the club members named the “Friends Club”. She became a member of TASH and of the Arizona WINS Leadership team. Shortly after, she applied to attend the National Youth Summit. She was accepted and attended the summit, becoming one of the creators and founding members of the national I am Norm campaign in January 2009.

Today, Kristin is working there as a peer mentor for students with intellectual disabilities. Kristin is currently working on earning double degrees, a B.S. in Special Education and Rehabilitation, and a B.A. in Women and Gender Studies: Sexualities and Queer Studies Concentration.

How and when did you become involved with I Am Norm?

I became involved in I am Norm after being accepted to attend the original youth summit.

If you were to describe yourself in one word what would that word be and why?

Reflective.

What do you like to do in your free time?

I like to read and to spend time with my friends and roommates.

What is something you want everyone to know about you?

Social justice is my passion in life, and it motivates me in nearly everything I do, every day. I strive to always look for ways to learn more, grow, and become a better person, advocate, and ally.

Maci

I am in my school marching band, I play the trombone.  I am also a Girl Scout and a Sea Scout.  In my spare time I play piano and read lots of books.

How and when did you become involved with I Am Norm?

I got involved with I Am Norm in 2012 when they had a youth summit at the TASH conference.  I got involved because I wanted to make a difference, I went to an inclusion school and I knew that not all places were as accepting as my school was and I wanted to change that.

If you were to describe yourself in one word what would that word be and why?

If I described myself in one word it would be OBSERVANT. I can be shy and don’t often talk, but I am aware of everything that is happening around me and speak up when I have something to say.

What do you like to do in your free time?

In my free time I like to read, my favorite genre is historical fiction. I also like books with unpredictable plots. My favorite book is The Book Thief by: Markus Zusak. I love this book because it gives a new perspective that is not normally seen.

What is something you want everyone to know about you?

I do not like to be “normal” and so I do things like wear two watches and wear neck ties when I can.

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Natalie

My name is Natalie and I enjoy playing volleyball, rowing, and my favorite subject in school is Literature. I am in the I Am Norm campaign because I think that everyone deserves to be included and no one deserves to be excluded.

How and when did you become involved with I Am Norm?

 

My mom was the President of the Board for KIT for two years and through KIT I was introduced to I Am Norm, two years ago.

If you were to describe yourself in one word what would that word be and why?

 

Caring, because I think that I am a caring person and my goal is to care for and help everyone who needs it.

What do you like to do in your free time?

 

In my free time I like to play volleyball, hang out with my friends, and write stories.

What is something you want everyone to know about you?

I want people to know that if they are worried, hurt, or alone that they can come to me and I won’t judge them and I can try to help them, or just give them a shoulder to cry on.

 

Nathan

My name is Nathan, and right now I am in the process of applying to college.  I am hoping to study creative writing, diplomacy and/or foreign language.  I hope that by applying what I learn in these subjects that I can be an instrument of peace and help to bring the peoples of the world closer together.

How and when did you become involved with I Am Norm?

I became involved with the “I am Norm,” campaign after I made a documentary called, “Vision Through Our Eyes.” My hope, as a person with a visual impairment, was that this film would dispel the misguided perceptions that people have about blindness.  I wanted to show that we, meaning the visually impaired, have the same hopes and dreams as everyone else.  After I made this film I was invited to participate in the Youth Inclusion Summit, and it was during this weekend that the “I am Norm,” campaign was born.

If you were to describe yourself in one word what would that word be and why?

 

Inclusive.  Because every day I try to reach out to someone else, be they disabled, or from another culture, or race, or religion.  My passion for inclusion is due, in part, to my own disability and the exclusion I have suffered as a result of it.  I also experienced this feeling of exclusion as an American living abroad.  I understand how difficult it can be, to be a contributing member of society, when we feel frustrated and unwelcome in the environment in which we are living. I believe that inclusion is a way to make the world a better place because we are all happier and more productive when we feel as though we belong.

What do you like to do in your free time?

 

I enjoy reading, writing, drawing, studying foreign languages and history, listening to music, singing and acting.

What is something you want everyone to know about you?

I want people to know that I believe that each of us has worth, value and something to contribute to society.  I hope that that message is evident in my dealing with others.

 

tia head shot

Tia

Hey guys! I’m Tia and I have mild cerebral palsy, this however does not affect my brain power or social skills, it simply affects my speech and mobility very mildly. I take my schoolwork very seriously, but also manage to balance my schoolwork with my social life. I am a board member of my school’s Key Club as well as a member of the NHS at my school. I’m currently studying Spanish and hope to study abroad one day to really immerse myself in the language and culture of a Spanish speaking country. I want to be an advocate for the inclusion of people with disabilities because I’ve experienced firsthand what it’s like to be excluded because of my CP. I think of myself as Tia, the girl with the purple hair. Not Tia the“disabled girl”.

How and when did you become involved with I Am Norm?

I became involved with I am Norm at the National Youth Inclusion Summit back in January of 2010. The summit took place in DC and twenty teens were chosen through an application process to attend the youth summit. I was one of the youngest chosen, but I am very glad I was. I am Norm came together at the summit and we continued to shape and enhance this campaign idea of “I am Norm.” Since the summit I’ve helped create social media pages, create videos for our website, as well as present across the country at conferences regarding individuals with disabilities. I Am Norm has opened doors for me left and right, and has definitely made me a stronger and more confident young woman.

If you were to describe yourself in one word what would that word be and why?

My word would be determined. The word determined definitely describes me because I have always been determined to succeed. The doctors said I wouldn’t be able to walk, proved them wrong in months. People have said a class would be too challenging for me, proved them wrong after the first test. From simple tasks, such as walking or talking, to AP classes, I am determined to succeed.

What do you like to do in your free time?

I love to hang out with friends and volunteer in my community. I enjoy watching movies, playing board games, and spending time with my family. One of my favorite activities is miniature golf. I absolutely love the beach and the mountains and wish I could live at both at the same time!

What is something you want everyone to know about you?

I am a very independent young woman that doesn’t let obstacles stop me from achieving my goals. My dream job would be in the field of advocacy for people with disabilities. When I put my mind to something, I don’t let anything or anyone stop me from reaching my goals.

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Tyler

My name is Tyler. Ihave recently graduated from UNI with a BA in Sociology. I am passionate about any issues concerning human rights or advocacy. Having a disability myself, I am especially interested in Disability Rights and Inclusion.  I also consider myself to be very creative. I have a background in the performing arts and I am also interested in creative writing. I created a DVD on Ability Awareness in 2006 for my Eagle Scout project. It has since been requested from all 50 states and 30+ countries. Over the past 7 years I have been the Keynote speaker for about 60 conferences and workshops across the country. I have also spoken at a Congressional luncheon.

How and when did you become involved with I Am Norm?

 

Dan asked me to join the 2010 National Inclusion Summit where “I am Norm” was created”

If you were to describe yourself in one word what would that word be and why?

 

Passionate: Inclusion is an issue that has effected me and I want every kid to be a valued part of their community.

What do you like to do in your free time?

 

Go to movies, play video games, spend time on the internet,  hang out with friends

What is something you want everyone to know about you?

I’m super excited to be here!

 

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Valerie

I am a student at college. I have a reading disability. I love to play soccer and swim. I also really like my choir class. I love animals and after I graduate I want to get a job in the animal care field.

How and when did you become involved with I Am Norm?

 

I became involved with I am Norm in December of 2012 when I attended the second Youth Summit in California.

If you were to describe yourself in one word what would that word be and why?

 

Nice, because I like to make friends and be there for people.

What do you like to do in your free time?

 

I like to swim in my free time.

What is something you want everyone to know about you?

I like to play soccer.

 

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Zoe

Hi, I am Zoe. I love to read and I enjoy playing in my school’s marching band as the only trumpet player. I also enjoy playing the violin and the viola. Something that I love with a passion is koalas and history. I love history and one of my favorite things to do is read about history, particularly World War II.

How and when did you become involved with I Am Norm?

I became involved with I Am Norm last year at the TASH conference. My old school recommended my sister, my best friend and I to join in on the I Am Norm conference. Ever since, I have been involved with I Am Norm.

If you were to describe yourself in one word what would that word be and why?

I would describe myself in one word as zealous. This is because zealous means to have enthusiasm towards an objective. This is true about myself.

What do you like to do in your free time?

In my free time I love to read. Some other things that I enjoy is hanging out with my friends and programming AAC devices/apps. Another thing that I enjoy is playing music.

What is something you want everyone to know about you?

When I grow up I want to work with AAC devices.  This is because my best friend uses one and when I see how much it has helped her and opened up her world, I want to help other people with this too.