On June 5, 2015 the Neil Squire Society (new window) participated in Walk and Roll (new window), a New Brunswick-wide event to show support for persons with disabilities. At the event, one of our employees, Kailha, shared her story of overcoming barriers to education as a student with a Learning Disability (new window). Kailha has encouraged many Employ-Ability participants to dream big and reach for their goals.
Here is Kailha’s story:
Today, I am here to share my story, to help others know that even with a disability you can achieve your dreams. I was diagnosed with a Learning Disability in grade two, the same year my teacher argued that I did not belong in the classroom and called me stupid in front of other students. This is when my mom knew something needed to change. I was moved to a different school, however, my mom fought for me to stay in the regular classroom because she believed that a Learning Disability does not mean that I should be separated from my friends, it just means that I learn differently.
School was hard work and I had to endure long hours in addition to hiring tutors outside the school to support me. I never let that stop me because I had a dream that I was achieving! I knew from an early age what I wanted to do, and that was to help others with Learning Disabilities achieve their dreams and show them that it is possible.
In my final year of high school, I finally received accommodations. My final year of high school was amazing! I ended up finishing with a 98% average which earned me awards and a scholarship for one of the top marks in Ontario. I was so proud. I was proud not just for the awards, but because I was standing on stage graduating when I was told by so many I would not.
College was a whole different playing field because my mom was not there to advocate for me; it was my turn to be my own advocate. I managed to receive support from Assistive Technology, a Mentor, and a Learning Strategist. All of these supports helped me achieve what I needed in college. When I finished college, I knew that it was not enough so I decided I would apply to University. Again, I was discouraged by many, and was told that University is very different from College and that it is much harder.
I applied to many of the top universities in Ontario and to my surprise, I was accepted by all! I opted to stay in Kingston and study at Queens University (new window). The supports continued and the professors supported me.
I moved to New Brunswick five years ago, and at that time switched to Ryerson University (new window) to continue my studies online, taking the Bachelor of Arts in Disability Studies. This is my passion and I want to help others achieve their dreams.
Now, I am a graduate of Ryerson University, and I am employed supporting people with disabilities at the Neil Squire Society! Having a Learning Disability made me who I am today, and although I may learn differently than others, and it may take a little longer to achieve some tasks, I realize that this is okay! My focus is not on my disability, but on my many abilities!