By: Kaila & Michael Jacques
Find your voice and start a conversation.
Michael Jacques, a young adult has accomplished great things in his life. This past year he has presented over 65 times to elementary, secondary, college, and university students, as well to numerous organizations and conferences throughout the province of Ontario. What makes Michael unique is he has an intellectual disability and autism, which presents him with various challenges in life, such as not being able to read or write, tell time, understand the concept of money, and other things. Yet this does not stop him from leading a positive, productive, and fulfilling life.
Michael’s message is simple…
“Anything is possible, be kind to one another and include everyone.”
~ Michael Jacques
Michael is a Special Olympics Athlete, a board member for Community Living Ontario, and an employee at Sobeys. And if those incredible accomplishments weren’t enough, Michael wrote and self-published a book titled Can’t Read, Can’t Write, Here’s my Book. It’s an autobiography that took Michael five years to complete. He used speech-to-text technology to accomplish his goal. While this journey began as a personal one, it is now part of a larger conversation about self-discovery, diversity, and authentic inclusion.
Connect with Michael at Digital Human Library.
Michael is now offering programs for schools through Digital Human Library so he can share his message with even more students. When Michael presents to elementary students he shares examples of his elementary school experiences which focus on his experiences being bullied. Michael was not physically or verbally bullied, but he experienced being excluded from play with students. He shares how it made him feel and how he managed to cope with exclusion. He inspires students to make their school more inclusive and gives suggestions about how to make this happen. Michael believes that during his time in elementary school that the other students were not being mean, they just weren’t aware of their behaviour or that Michael was born different and that difference is okay. Michael states:
“I just want to educate students that everyone can be different and let them know that sometimes their behaviour can make people sad.”
Michael’s hope is that students start to recognize areas where they can include all individuals so that school is a happy, safe space for everyone.
Michael also offers programs for secondary students. He talks about how he found his ‘voice’ and how he started to make changes in his high school to make it more inclusive. Michael shares stories about a secondary school conference, open to all high school students across the province of Ontario, called Re:action4Inclusion. This 3 day conference focuses on inclusion, leadership and developing a strong student voice in order to make change. Michael’s success in high school was due to programming related to Special Education, Student Success, Co-op Education and Technology. His presentations, followed by questions from the audience, have been well received by both students and staff.
And now, Michael wants to share his story and book with even more students and staff to start conversations and lead change.
If you’d like to request Michael for a video conference with your class, please login to Digital Human Library and search our Video Conferencing Catalogue to make your request!
Buy the Book
Michael’s book is available at all Sobeys stores in the province of Ontario and all Sobeys stores across the Atlantic. Michael donates partial proceeds from his book sales to both Special Olympics Canada and Community Living Ontario—two organizations that play a large role in Michael’s life and who support full inclusion.
You can purchase an electronic version of Michael’s book online at the Apple bookstore. Learn more about Michael, his journey, and check out his TV and Media appearances by visiting his website: HeresMyBook.com.
This post is also available in: Français (French)