Millions of children with disabilities are missing out on education. Like me, they deserve to fulfill their potential

When I was 9 years old, a psychologist told my parents I had a low IQ because I was born with Down syndrome.

a woman wearing a suit and tie: Brina Maxino.

© Courtesy Maxino family
Brina Maxino.

Seven years later, I graduated high school as class valedictorian. At the age of 20, I received a bachelor’s degree in arts with a major in history. Today, I am a pre-school assistant teacher, a Special Olympics Global Youth Ambassador and Sargent Shriver International Global Messenger. I am also the 2020 UNESCO Global Champion for Inclusion in Education.


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I don’t think about what that psychologist said when I was a child, but I wonder how many children with disabilities are not fulfilling their potential because someone once said they couldn’t.

We can be more — and do more. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

The recently released “2020 UNESCO Global Education Monitoring Report” (GEM) states that children and youth

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Stephen Rock Awarded Lifetime Achievement Award from Association of University Centers on Disabilities

Stephen Rock, director of the Nevada Center for Excellence in Disabilities has received the 2020 Lifetime Achievement Award from the Association of University Centers on Disabilities. Rock will receive the award during a virtual ceremony on December 8.

“I’ve got a lot of friends there and it would have been nice to have the ceremony and be there, but that’s 2020,” Rock said. “That’s the way things are.”

The AUCD comprises a network of university centers spanning across the United States. The member centers work on services for people with disabilities while simultaneously working with local and state agencies to advocate for people with disabilities. Rock said that the organization has also been active politically by pushing for disability programs and advocating for people with disabilities in policy issues.

“AUCD is a significant national organization in the disability field,” Rock said. “I’ve been involved with AUCD for over 30 years.

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