Literacy Allows Yul to Participate in the Community

To celebrate National Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month this March, we’ve been sharing stories that demonstrate the difference inclusion makes in the lives of the people we serve. 

Yul Brint’s story of inclusion starts with literacy.

Growing up, Yul never learn to read. He didn’t go to high school.

It wasn’t until later in his life, when he enrolled in the Failure-Free Reading Program at the Barbara Olson Center of Hope, that he began to study and understand written language.

This literacy journey opened up new opportunities for Yul and has allowed him to more fully participate in the local and global community.

Now literate, Yul’s voice is included in the conversation.

In 2018, he applied and was accepted into the Northern Illinois Chapter of The Human Library. 

The experience allows Yul to participate in a setting – the library – that was once unfamiliar to him.

The Human Library project, which first started in Copenhagen, Denmark in 2000, aims to challenge stereotypes and prejudices through dialogue.

Readers are encouraged to check out living “books” and engage with people they might not normally meet – often people who have experienced prejudice, social exclusion and stigma.

Yul participates in The Human Library at Rockford Public Library.

His book title? Don’t assume I cannot do something without giving me a chance.

During 15-minute conversations with readers, Yul shares his story:

“I have cerebral palsy. I have a job, and I work hard at it. I have friends and a girlfriend. I want to be as independent as possible.”

He also encourages readers to ask him tough questions, like: 

“Do you feel like your disability defines you?”

“What would you like people to know about people with disabilities?” 

“How do you advocate for others who have disabilities?”

Yul plans to continue sharing his story. 

“It’s fun,” he said. “I get to tell my story, and they put me on TV. I get to help out, and they like talking to me. They asked if I would do it again, and I said, ‘Yes.’”

Flipping the library concept, The Human Library is a place where real people are on loan to readers; it’s a place where difficult questions are expected, appreciated and answered.

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