Mia’s Story of Inclusion

Mia Pisani, a 6th grade student at Quest Elementary in New York created a video for her “exhibition project” to raise awareness about inclusion for people with disabilities everywhere. She describes her inclusion journey, which starts in preschool, and how she is preparing for the transition to middle school.

Audio Transcript

Hi, my name is Mia Pisani and I have Down Syndrome. I just graduated 6th grade from Quest Elementary school.

For my exhibition, I want people to know about including people with disabilities everywhere.

In this presentation, I will tell you how I learned in elementary school.

My pictures on the school website. That is my hand along with the hands of my friends. As you can see I am fully a part of my school.

This is my teacher and some of my friends.

My exhibition message is: Inclusion is important for people with disabilities because they can be friends and learn in the same community.

I’ll share what inclusion means to me and the ways I have learned.

My first action was to raise awareness on World Down Syndrome day, which is March 21, 3-21, to celebrate Trisomy 21, which is the scientific term for Down Syndrome.

My second action was to present to Lily’s parents. Lily is going to Kindergarten in Hilton, and she has Down Syndrome too!

My third action was to present to student teachers about inclusion.

I was the first child born in my family. I have Down Syndrome. My mom and dad found out before I was born. Down Syndrome means that I have an extra copy of the 21st chromosome. Trisomy 21 is the official word.

I can learn other kids and I have to work extra hard and get extra help.

Mommy was so happy to have me, and so was my dad!

My parents were happy to have me, but many people worry when they find out.

They don’t think there’s a place for people with Down Syndrome.

Many mothers have an abortion when they find out.

In the past, doctors recommended that parents send their children to special hospitals and sleep-away schools.

People with Down Syndrome were separated from everybody else. I am not separated! I have been included with friends my own age since Kindergarten…all the way until now.

I started Physical Therapy when I was three years old.

I became a big sister when my brother Luke was born.

Here, I signed, “Baby!”

Pretty soon, Luke started helping me with PT.

Thanks to my PT, Luke is still a good jumper!

Mommy and Daddy talked with other families who have children with disabilities to learn everything they could.

This is my preschool team. Actually, there’s a few people missing… Can you tell who’s missing from my team? My family is missing! My team isn’t just teachers. My mom, my dad and I are part of the team, and Luke and Cara have a big part in supporting me.

In preschool, we started to figure out that therapists and teachers could push in, instead of keeping me separate.

We moved physical therapy from my house to dance class. My PT came to dance.

Luke and I helped each other learn.

I have done all my activities with my friends, my brother, and my sister. Now I get to share a little bit of my last seven years of school.

This is my first day of kindergarten. I took the same bus as my neighborhood friends, and I still do. On the bus, I met older friends who were special to me too.

These triplets were my first friends in kindergarten. I went to their house and they came to mine.

This is a picture of my kindergarten team at Northwood. I had speech, OT, and special ed and Mrs. Kintz, my assistant all the way until fourth grade. My friend is in first grade. Ms. Finke was my 1st grade teacher, and this is my team.

Remember the triplets from kindergarten? This is my birthday party for second grade before I switched to QUEST. My team in second grade. Mrs. Kintz is still there. Some friends from 2nd grade came over for swimming! These are friends from my small group at Journey.

This is my team for 3rd and 4th grade. I loved Mrs. PJ! Mrs. Kintz has a flower because she retired. My team in 3rd and 4th grade helped me learn a lot. I liked math and I still do!

Last year, I took the New York State Test for the first time. I took them again this year. With help, I do the same work as the rest of my class. This is evidence from my last portfolio share.

These pictures show that I am meeting my reading goals, my math goals. I am good at taking notes.

In June, I graduated. I was the first student with Down Syndrome to graduate all the way through QUEST in a regular classroom. Now I am heading to the Middle School.

In February, I met with my QUEST team and my new Middle School team to make our plans.

I hope that other students will be influenced by my story of inclusion and I’d like to thank Hilton for supporting me a lot.

I would like to thank my parents. I would like to thank Mr. Weingart, Mrs. Blackwood, and Mrs. Carpenter for helping me for the past two years.

I will miss them a lot next year.

Thanks for sharing your story of inclusion with us Mia! All the best in middle school as you continue to be a trailblazer for inclusive education.