Self-Advocate Spotlight: Nicole Flynn
Nicole Flynn is a self-advocate, a college student, a runner, a volunteer, a synchronized swimmer, a writer, a musician and a singer, and that just scratches the surface of her many skills and talents. A member of the Council of Community Living Ontario and an active member of her community, Nicole lives independently in Belleville where she attends Loyalist College for General Arts & Science, runs for her college’s cross-country team, volunteers for the Belleville Archives and advocates as a Youth Accessibility Leader to inform her college how to make her campus an inclusive space.
I am not special, I have had a lot of opportunities and I take advantage of those opportunities, that’s it.
In her spare time, she has been learning to play the violin, training for her runs and spending time with her family and friends. On top of all of that, she has started to write a book, titled “Having Down Syndrome doesn’t stop me – society does.” But this book will not be her first published work. Nicole even met with the Prime Minister to advocate on behalf of all people who have an intellectual disability. Nicole wrote a speech about how she was able to meet the Prime Minister and that speech was published in the First Peoples Child & Family Review after meeting with Dr.Cindy Blackstock, Gitxsan activist for child welfare and executive director of the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society of Canada.When asked why she likes being so involved as a self-advocate in her community, Nicole explained that she does not do it only for herself. She does it for others who have an intellectual disability and s First Nations people. She wants to show them what is possible. Through developing a personal network and seeking new ways to challenge herself, Nicole has had numerous unique experiences and we are sure this is just the beginning for her.
It was important for Nicole to be treated as equal. She felt included and accepted because her disability didn’t define her. Her talent, determination and strong messages did.
Nicole said she wanted to make sure others knew that she has this message to share, “I am not special, I have had a lot of opportunities and I take advantage of those opportunities, that’s it.”