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Governor’s Council on Disability Names Annual Award Winners; Winners exemplify standards of excellence in enhancing life for individuals living with disabilities

JEFFERSON CITY, MO - The Governor's Council on Disability (GCD) has selected the award winner and honorable mention of the 29th Annual Inclusion Award and the 8th Annual Youth Leadership Award.

The Inclusion Award and one Honorable Mention are presented annually to recognize private and public employers, individuals, and organizations that have successfully included people with disabilities in education, employment, housing, leisure activities, universal design and website accessibility.

The annual Youth Leadership Award and one Honorable Mention are presented to recognize an outstanding Missouri youth (age 16-26) with a disability that has demonstrated exemplary leadership by making a difference in their community.

2020 Inclusion Award winner: St. Louis Aquarium at Union Station

The St. Louis Aquarium at Union Station is one of the first destinations in St. Louis to be fully inclusive with universal design features throughout. When planning a visit, guests can view the accessibility page on the website to find a variety of accommodations that are available during their visit. The Aquarium also makes every effort to provide job opportunities for people of all abilities by embracing inclusive employment practices and hiring individuals with disabilities.

Honorable Mention: Job One, Independence

For more than 50 years, Job One has been providing opportunities for adults with disabilities. Services and supports include Community-Based Day Services, a Summer Work Experience Program for high school juniors and seniors, an Employee Resource Advocate, and an Advocacy Champions Program. Job One’s Neurodiversity Presentation provides advocacy and education to employers by sharing the benefits of hiring neurodiverse individuals.

2020 Youth Leadership Award winner: Luke Barber

Luke Barber is a passionate leader on the education and promotion of the rights of persons with disabilities in Missouri. Luke is studying public policy and social work at University of Missouri St. Louis, where he founded the Able-Disable Partnership, a student club advocating for building modifications and learning accommodations. Luke serves on the St. Louis County Commission on Disabilities and works at Easterseals Midwest where he provides courses on rights, responsibilities, self-advocacy and self-determination for people with disabilities. He connects with legislators regularly to advocate for the rights of the disability community.

Honorable Mention: Olivia Apollo

Olivia Apollo is a leader in her community and at Webster University, where she studies anthropology and international studies, and joined Access U, a career development program for college students with disabilities. Olivia serves as an orientation and connection leader and advocates for accessibility on campus. As a camp counselor for Dream Big, a career exploration camp for youth with disabilities, she had an incredible impact on the participants by empowering them to feel more confident and applying their self-advocacy skills.

The awards will be presented to the winners at the Governor’s Council on Disability’s quarterly Council meeting on April 30, 2021.

For more information on the Inclusion Award, go here. For more information on the Youth Leadership Award, go here.

For additional information, please contact the GCD at 573-751-2600 or via e-mail at gcd@oa.mo.gov.