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West Virginia Youth to Receive National Award

Institute, W.Va.- Erick Dowdy, a 2005 Youth Disability Caucus delegate from Huntington, W.Va., will be awarded the Diana Viets Memorial Award during the annual conference of the National Council on Independent Living on May 23, 2006 in Washington, D.C.

Dowdy, along with the 17 other youth delegates, participated in conference calls to develop a bill establishing the third week of October as Disability History Week. The group also met with and got feedback from the West Virginia Education Association lobbyist. Erick met personally with the Assistant Superintendent, Division of Curriculum & Instructional Services for the West Virginia Department of Education; the Speaker of the House, who sponsored the bill; and the Chairmen of the Senate and House Education Committees, also sponsors of the bill.

"Erick has grown to be a real leader since his participation in the Youth Disability Caucus. He was the main spokesman for the youth in advocating for the Disability History Week bill recently signed into law April 3rd by Governor Joe Manchin, the first such bill in the nation," Ann Meadows, WVSILC executive director said.

The Diana Viets Memorial Award recognizes youth, age 18-25, whose work through independent living has had a positive impact on youth with disabilities. Dowdy credits the Youth Disability Caucus for this achievement stating "In less than a year I, and other delegates, went from acting out a bill passing to actually making one pass. This is something I will take with me for the rest of my life and I will use it to inspire myself and others with disabilities in the future."

For more information, contact the Ann Meadows, Executive Director, WVSILC at 1-800-642-8207 ext. 4624 or at

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