Friday several students with wide ranging disabilities were in the capital for a forum geared towards empowering them to independence.
"I want to be an architect,” says future architect Austin Gleaton.
Gleaton has long range goals of obtaining a Masters in Architecture. Gleaton, who is disabled, believes he can build a strong academic foundation through hard work, determination and dedication.
"I can do anything that's how I felt and God has been there with me the whole time so I can go as far as I want,” Gleaton explains.
Gleaton is one of 50 high school students from across the state of Florida with disabilities who are participating in a Youth Leadership Forum that teaches them how to empower themselves through community resources, and so far it's paying off.
"I have been able to become a computer technician in the Broward County school system in elementary schools, which I love. It pretty much helps my friends with disabilities or have problems with something to get the correct accommodations,” says Anthony LaCava, who is living with a disability.
As part of the event several kids got a feel of what it's like to walk in each other's shoes while getting a bird's eye view of each other's disabilities, but the overall theme was self advocacy.
"So many times general society has these preconceived notions that a person with disability can’t do something and that's not the case the most limitations that were placed on me were by people who didn't have a disability,” explains Sharon D’Eusanio, Deputy Director of Victim Services.
And with those words of encouragement these students say they are now ready for challenges that lie ahead. The program also offers students the opportunity to build necessary social skills to boost their self confidence.