Now a young adult, Mikayla was profoundly brain damaged at birth resulting in spastic quadriplegic cerebral palsy, severe intellectual disability, seizure disorder, legal blindness, hearing impairment, and numerous medical conditions related to her disabilities. Despite the severity of Mikayla’s disabilities, her parents have always strived to give her as normal a life as possible. They moved to Pennsylvania when Mikayla was in the first grade and the idea of full inclusion for a child with significant developmental disabilities was relatively new to their school district. In keeping with their own personal philosophy, Mikayla’s parents requested that she be included in a regular first grade class. She was the first student at Lower Nazareth Elementary School to use a wheelchair and matriculated through the Nazareth Area School District, remaining fully included at the intermediate, middle and high schools. She graduated with her class in 2014, but not before having silently taught her friends some most valuable life lessons.
This generation of children has an important message to share. Through increased inclusive practices in our schools and communities, our children have been blessed with greater appreciation for and friendships with children with disabilities. Diversity builds understanding, compassion and acceptance, making us all better human beings. It is important to help them share the benefits of inclusion so this trend may continue to grow.
That is our goal at Mikayla’s Voice.
“You can inspire anybody. Mikayla inspired me so much.”
Elementary School Student