From a narrow convenience store aisle to a sidewalk without a curb ramp, things that go unnoticed to many of us pose major challenges to people like 16-year-old AJ Marx, who was born with cerebral palsy. But this bright, motivated 10th grader is tackling his challenges head-on—and in doing so, helping to raise awareness and improve accessibility for people who have disabilities. AJ’s laundry list of accomplishments includes talking to college students, television stations—even his mayor—about accessibility issues, and encouraging his classmates to sign up for the Great American Bike Race, a fundraiser for people who have cerebral palsy.
It seems only fitting that, today, the North Dakota chapter of the Council for Exceptional Children (CEC) announced AJ as winner of the 2010 National “Yes I Can!” award (he’ll travel to Nashville, Tenn. in April to accept the award.) The “Yes I Can!” award recognizes children and teens who have disabilities for their success in academics, athletics, independent living, and other categories. AJ, who was honored in the self advocacy category, says he’s determined to continue making a difference. “You can change a lot by just speaking up,” he says.