YLC Member, Lindsey Eaton is IN TO HIRE!
As you know, Best Buddies International and the Institute for Corporate Productivity recently launched the I’m in to Hire campaign, to spread awareness about why it is important to hire people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and the benefits of hiring a Best Buddies participant. I recently had the opportunity to share my speech about how Best Buddies has changed my life and why it is important to hire people with disabilities. I received an email from Best Buddies Arizona saying that Best Buddies International asked me to speak. I did not hesitate at all to accept the opportunity to speak at the conference.
I was honestly kind of nervous to speak in front of a new audience since I didn’t know people would receive it and if they would listen. They listened attentively and gave me many rounds of applause and a standing ovation at the end, which erased my concerns about how my speech would be viewed. I shared the video of my speech on Twitter and it continues to be retweeted and favorited by people. Please read the speech I shared below!
Good Afternoon Everyone,
My name is Lindsey Eaton and I have Autism. Autism is characterized by difficulty in communicating and forming relationships with other people. While many people see it as a negative label or something that could hold me back, I see it as a diagnosis of AWESOMENESS. Yes sometimes it’s hard for me to communicate but through Best Buddies I have the ability to use my voice and be heard. Yes sometimes I have trouble building relationships but again with the help of Best Buddies I have many relationships with long lasting friends. As you can see my voice is heard, loud and proud and nothing…not even my AWESOMENESS can take that away from me.
Growing up before Best Buddies was miserable. I used to wonder if anyone would ever want to be my friend. I saw my sisters making friends in school and I was alone and isolated. That broke my parent’s heart. They just wanted me to feel accepted and have friends. It wasn’t until my freshman year of high school that I met my first friend, Emma Kath. We met through Best Buddies at Chaparral High School and I knew then that making friends would be a little easier and maybe even a little fun.
As soon as I attended my first chapter meeting, I was HOOKED on the mission of the organization which pairs people with intellectual and developmental disabilities in one-to-one friendships. The Best Buddies chapter at Chaparral High School prides itself in creating strong one-to-one friendships. I currently keep in touch with my past three peer buddies Elaine Helton, Meaghan Tracey and Katie Asher, who are now in college.
Another part of the Best Buddies mission is integrated employment for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. I can tell you personally I feel having a job is important because it gives me independence and I learn how to work as a team member.
Jobs are important since they help people with disabilities learn new skills, feel included, earn money and gain the independence needed to advocate for themselves. I currently work at Medtronic through Project SEARCH. Through the internship, I have gained new skills, gotten to know my mentors and supervisors who help me on the job and learned how to work as a team with my fellow interns while doing activities during classroom time at the beginning and end of the day. I have come to realize how fortunate I am to be part of Project SEARCH at Medtronic since they really make every effort they can to include me in company functions.
Sadly not everyone is as fortunate as I am, as you know there are many people with intellectual and developmental disabilities that do not have jobs. There many people who don’t get the opportunity to learn new skills and to feel like they are worth being invested in. Today I empower YOU. I empower you to see us for our abilities, not our disabilities.
Be a part of our mission, be the movement we are creating, join us today. Take the opportunity to hire someone with an intellectual and developmental disability.
We are more alike than different and I ask you to see that.
I would like to say that it is an honor to speak to you at this conference and represent Best Buddies International and Best Buddies Arizona. Thank you for listening and hope you are able to employ a buddy today!
-Lindsey Eaton, YLC Vice Chair, Communications Committee Co-Chair
Check out the video of my speech by clicking here: Lindsey Eaton’s i4cp conference speech!