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Alyssa Simmons
Teenspokesperson

Arguably no stranger to adversity, Alyssa Simmons was birthed into advocacy. Born with sickle cell disease, Alyssa knows firsthand the challenges that come with a disability. Spending much time in and out of hospitals and coping with pain management, Alyssa is no stranger to the mental, physical, emotional, and psychological challenges that reside from living with a disability. Therefore, she chooses to focus on helping others.

From an early age, Alyssa started advocating and becoming the face for change among her peers and even adults. She was determined to "live by design and not by diagnosis." By the age of nine, Alyssa made several public advocacy appearances on the "Trinity Broadcast Network Show", "Joy in our Town." In addition, she raised awareness of sickle cell disease through radio interviews and local newspapers, "Orange County Register," "Tri-County Bulletin," while creating an outreach tutoring program for hospitalized children through the sickle cell foundation of Orange County. In 2011, Alyssa appeared on several live stream "blood mobiles" with her family in unity and recorded a public service awareness video promoting "bleeding by example."

In 2016, Alyssa was awarded the "Prudential Spirit of Volunteerism Award” and represented the state of California as a state honoree at a meeting with Congress in Washington, D.C., attended by 50 other state representatives, to discuss their charitable causes. In the same year, she was acknowledged by President Obama, California State Assemblyman William P. Brough, and Senator Patricia C. Bates for her public service, serving over 1,200 community service hours in one year.

Alyssa has shown that she is willing and committed to breaking down barriers for those living with disabilities in showing that they, too, deserve a seat at the table.

Read Alyssa's Blog on  "Being Pushed into an IEP: Ableism or Access" published by Loyola Law School, The Coelho Center Blog curated by The Coelho Center for Disability Law, Policy and Innovation.

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