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The Ontario Child Advocate launched the We Have Something to Say (WHSTS) initiative in an effort to close the gap between policy and the realities facing children and youth with disabilities, and their families or caregivers. We aim to place the voices of Disabled children and youth at the centre of discussion to ensure their rights are respected.

The We Have Something to Say initiative is guided by an advisory of diverse young people from all over Ontario, having representation from the Black, Indigenous, racialized, Queer, Trans* communities; from rural, reserve and urban settings, and various experiences with Disability. WHSTS is supported by Community Development Advisors Alex and Kate, Child and Youth Advocate Stephanie, and project Amplifiers Rana and Josh.

In the Beginning

We Have Something to Say began in 2014 as an initiative called “I Have Something to Say.” This initiative brought together various Disabled young peoples, their families, friends, and caregivers to discuss their experiences and how they envisioned the future for the Disability community.

Through an online campaign of over 170 Disabled young peoples, their families and caregivers, they shared their narratives in the form of videos, personal notes, poetry, written and art work, song and personal interviews. These submissions became the foundation for our report, which was released in May 2016. 

Currently, the initiative is working to share and implement the recommendations contained in our report.

WHSTS’s Focus

The report highlights four main areas: Family and Home; School and Education; Supports and Services and Transitions Across the Lifespan. The recommendations focus on:        

  • Ensuring equitable distribution and access to support services for Disabled young peoples across the province
  • Simplifying access processes for families and Disabled young peoples
  • Including Disabled young peoples in the decisions that affect their lives
  • Mandatory capacity building workshops centering Disability for educators and school personnel

Currently, WHSTS is centering our advocacy efforts on the education system, while expanding our advisory into various subcommittees focusing on: workshop development, resource building, social media presence and capacity building.