This academic year (2012-2013), 30 FLEX, YES and A-SMYLE students with disabilities traveled thousands of miles from home to learn, grow, and contribute to their American host communities. Here are some of the many highlights of their individual and collective accomplishments this year:
- Voted Student of the Month at the Tennessee School for the Blind;
- Went adapted surfing at Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina, with Life Rolls On;
- Rolled to the finish line in a 5K race in Union Grove, Wisconsin;
- Won 1st place in the Humorous Interpretation category in a speech competition in North Dakota;
- Participated in Civic Education Week in Washington, DC, and featured in an award winning photograph at the Franklin Delano Roosevelt (FDR) memorial;
- Played basketball at the Arkansas School for the Deaf and managed a high school volleyball team in Indiana;
- Learned American Sign Language (ASL) and perfected English;
- Joined American families and made friends for life in nineteen states and the District of Columbia;
- Logged hundreds of hours of community service – at an elementary school, the humane society, an assisted living facility, and a food bank.
As this academic year comes to a close, we applaud each student for his and her hard work and many contributions to their American communities. Using what they learned in the United States and their newfound leadership skills, they will strengthen their communities back home and inspire others. They join an active network of alumni of State Department sponsored youth programs-- alumni working towards positive social change, including the full inclusion of people with disabilities, everyday.
Watch the video about the YES program's impact on students with disabilities.