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Advocate Profile: Ryan Haack

Ryan standing with his right arm raised and speaking in a school auditorium in front of a sea of children siting down, almost everyone is raising their right arms

D: What is your favorite way to pass time? R: I love to watch sports or listen to my record collection (mostly jazz).

D: What is something people generally don’t know about you? I initially went to school for radio/TV broadcasting and worked as an on-air talent and producer at a radio station!

D: What gets your fired up about the disability movement? R: I'm kind of a tough one to get "fired-up," but the more I engage with people who don't have a disability, the more I'm realizing we still have a lot of work to do to set realistic expectations and educate where there is ignorance.

D: What is your advocacy platform? R: I wrote a children's book called "Different Is Awesome!" which has afforded me opportunities all over the country to visit schools to do assemblies and help lay the foundation for kids that our differences are something to be celebrated and embraced! I also speak to adults at various events put on by organizations and employer groups to share my story and bring awareness to the fact that we can and should all be difference-makers.

D: What barriers or challenges do you face in this movement? (or in life) R: I think ignorance is one of the biggest challenges we face. People just don't have the experience, so they come up with ideas and expectations that are just not accurate, which is why we need to use our voices to educate and recalibrate!

D: What do you want those who do not identify with disability to know? R: What a great question! While my disability is a part of who I am, it's not all I am. Get to know me as a person and let's tackle this together!

D: What areas are you still growing/hope to grow? Personally? Professionally? R: Honestly, I never really thought about disability for the first 35 years of my life. So, I'm still learning and growing in what it means to be an advocate, a voice, within this community. I'm still learning the best ways to bring awareness and enact positive change, but am committed to doing so!

D: When people look at you/up to you, what do you hope they see? R: I hope they see someone who wrestles with things honestly and openly. I don't have everything figured out. I don't think any of us do. That's why I think it's so important to be patient with each other and work together.

D: What are your next steps? R: I'm always looking to keynote and visit schools to do assemblies! I feel so at home in front of people and just want to help however I can to make sure kids and adults alike feel needed, important and awesome!

D :How do we follow you?! Website:

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