Activist and entrepreneur Megan Bomgaars said schools should place students with disabilities in general education settings. In the keynote address at the Thompson Policy Institute on Disability’s 2021 Virtual Summit on DisAbility and Inclusion, Bomgaars said schools and communities need to encourage all students to follow their dreams, to be anything they want without limits.
“Throughout my entire school career, I was included and supported by a group of teachers and professionals that believed in me,” said Bomgaars, a well-known self-advocate with Down Syndrome. “They gave me opportunities to succeed and helped me learn to believe that I could accomplish anything I wanted. They did not limit me.”
“Don’t Limit Us”
Bomgaars cited her personal experiences as an entrepreneur, published author, public speaker, and lead on the critically acclaimed show “Born this Way” on A&E when addressing the Summit attendees.
Children and adults with disabilities are like everyone else, said Bomgaars: “We want to have a purpose. We want to work and earn our way. Set high expectations for us, but not impossible expectations.”
Being able to make friends in school and join clubs and activities such as cheerleading were key to building her confidence during her school years and setting expectations for her future.
After delivering her keynote address titled “Don’t Limit Me,” Bomgaars was joined by her mother, Kris Bomgaars, in a breakout session on Adult Transition Services and as part of a concluding expert panel.
Bomgaars concluded her keynote with a call to the parents, teachers, and future employers of students with disabilities: “You are the people who will help us make possibilities realities. Please know the value that people like me will bring to your life.”
“We have a lot of skills. We have a lot of dreams. What I want to say to you is, ‘Don’t limit me. Don’t limit us, and please don’t limit yourself.’”
2021 Summit Program
TPI’s 2021 summit included breakout sessions on K-12 Practice, Teacher Preparation, FAST Program Services, and Transition Services. Each breakout strand featured experts from the field and highlighted TPI partnerships. The session speakers and contributors also included parents, doctors, and service practitioners who shared tips and best practices and offered advice on how to navigate the disability services system.
Recordings of Bomgaars’ keynote and panel discussion as well as all four breakout sessions are available on TPI’s webpage.
Megan Bomgaars, a well-known self-advocate with Down Syndrome, is an artist, entrepreneur, published author, college student, and lead on the critically acclaimed show “Born this Way” on A&E. Her first book, Born to Sparkle: A Story About Achieving Your Dreams, will be released in September 2021.
Thompson Policy Institute on Disability
TPI’s mission is to provide independent information on topics related to disability and facilitate action in areas that require community change. Throughout each year, TPI produces research that results in recommendations to decision-makers at the local, state, and national levels. The aim is to educate stakeholders on these topics in order improving the quality of life for children and adults with disabilities and their families. For the latest information, follow TPI on Facebook.