The Maine Developmental Disabilities Council recently seeks submissions for its 2019 Inclusion Awards, which celebrates extraordinary high school students who think deeply about issues of inclusion for people living with developmental disabilities. Open to all Maine high school juniors and seniors, the awards have two components: an essay contest and a visual arts contest, which allows students to express these ideas as artwork, according to the release from the council.

This year, students are asked to write essays or create two-dimensional artworks responding to the following prompt: “What does the full inclusion of individuals with developmental disabilities mean to you?”

The experience of participating in these contests has been a rewarding one for both teachers and students.

“An insightful experience that I would recommend to any high school student … I was able to develop my idea of community and how disabilities should never be thought of as a barrier between individuals. Awareness and acceptance being major takeaways from this contest, I feel new participants will cultivate these same beneficial values and an overall appreciation for the communities that they live in,” writes Corilie Green, an award recipient in 2018, according to the release. Linda Garcia, an educator at Hodgdon High School, said, “By participating in the Maine Developmental Disabilities Council’s Inclusion Awards, my students become advocates for a special segment of communities across Maine and beyond. Through their participation, my students share stories about inspiring individuals who make our world a more beautiful place,” according to the release.

The deadline for entries is Friday, Feb. 15, and scholarship prizes range from $250 to $1,000 for individual entries; $500 will be awarded to the teacher with the first-place winning student and $2,500 goes to the school with the most entries.

The Maine Developmental Disabilities Council is a partnership of people with disabilities, their families and agencies which identifies barriers to community inclusion, self-determination, and independence. The council is committed to creating a Maine in which all people are valued and respected because we believe communities are stronger when everyone is included.

For more information, contest rules and entry guidelines, visit, email [email protected], or call Jessica Gorton at 287-4215.

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