As a 12-year-old who towered over her peers and teachers, I was a target for many of my classmates’ jokes and ridicule. My father gave me some advice that helped shape who I am today. His valuable lesson was to love, accept and respect myself. When I began to do that, even with my imperfections, I could accept and respect differences in others.
While my childhood experiences in no way compare to the daunting task Hoosiers with intellectual and developmental disabilities face every day, it serves as a reminder of just how much being isolated, different or left out one can feel. It’s why I am so focused every day on lifting up those working through challenges.