The Maine Developmental Disabilities Council has put out a call for submissions for its 2020 Inclusion Awards, which celebrate 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 a news 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. “The contest allowed me to have the ability to express myself while standing up for others and hopefully having an impact within the community on how people interact with someone with developmental disabilities.” writes Madison Landry, a participant in 2019. 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.”

The deadline for entries is Monday, Feb. 3, 2020, and educational awards range from $250 to $1,000 for individual entries. Teachers and schools will also have an opportunity to win educational grants to support their commitment to educating their students on the value of inclusion.

The 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 it believes 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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