Leo’s Letter: Social Inclusion Can’t Wait: Expanding Pathways to Inclusion

“There were two photos: one with Morgyn and one without. A choice was made on which photo to submit, a choice made MULTIPLE times and a choice that excluded Morgyn EVERY. SINGLE. TIME.”

That’s a quote repeated in a CNN opinion piece by David M. Perry, commenting on the viral news story about Morgyn Arnold, an 8th grade cheerleader with Down Syndrome and member of her school’s cheerleading squad. School officials chose the picture not including Morgyn to be included in the yearbook.

Why was there a 2nd picture without Morgyn anyway? Morgyn told her dad, “I’m not here, but these are my friends and I love them.”

David’s son had a similar experience in second grade, when he wasn’t allowed to be part of a theatrical event for his class – yes, again, second grade!

Together, we can address these barriers, but it requires real conversations – meaning dialogue at the street, school, work, and community levels.

In response to those who say “I don’t know how to include youth with disabilities:” take a look at the page for our friendship program, Widening the Circle, where we offer toolkits on these topics.

In partnership with the Department of Developmental Services, we have material about furthering inclusions and friendships. You can download or refer people to our toolkits or other resources. For the next few months, you can request or pick up a hard copy of our newest toolkit to hand to community organizations (YMCAs, religious entities, community organizations, recreation programs, etc.).

Trust me – you’ll feel good about expanding pathways to inclusion.


  1. Please address social opportunities those who are NOT living in the closed social circles of group homes. I can understand that they may prefer to plan exclusive events for their clients. I can not understand why an invitation is accepted, but – at the last minute, there is no transportation, or a schedule conflict, or. .the invitee just doesn’t show up. Happens time after time.

  2. I’m sorry. I don’t understand what you are trying to say.
    Is it about people with disabilities not living in group homes being invited to group home activities and then not being able to attend?
    Thank you

  3. Agencies are competitive with each and have trouble playing in the same sandbox. For the sake of all individuals living at home or in any kind of group residence. DDS must encourage/ incentify /mandate agencies working together to benefit of the people they serve.

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