Nobody wants to see their child, sibling or friend left out or picked on for being themselves.
Yet kids with disabilities often face whispers, staring, exclusion, name-calling and bullying.
Young people with disabilities are two to three times more likely to be bullied than kids without disabilities and one study found that 53 per cent of kids with a disability have zero or only one close friend.
The shadow of disability stigma doesn’t disappear as young people with disabilities get older.
Median incomes for Canadians with disabilities are 34 per cent (almost $10,000) less than the incomes of Canadians without disabilities.
Many individuals with a disability who want to work face barriers to employment: one-third say they have been denied a job because of their disability, and 24 per cent say they have been denied a job interview.
This data, as well as the stories we hear first-hand from the thousands of children, youth and families served by Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital, are the reason that we have recently launched the second year of our Dear Everybody campaign.
Dear Everybody is a national movement created in partnership with kids and youth to raise awareness about disability stigma.
Disability stigma is the negative and unfair beliefs or assumptions we make about people who have disabilities. And stigma has an impact on almost every facet of life: friendships, school, employment, law, policy and more.
So the time for change is now.
Read my full column on Toronto.com.