Bright Vision of Inclusion Wins National Contest

What does inclusion mean to you? To Garrie Barnes, a longtime Special Olympics athlete and staffer, inclusion is Justice. Inclusion also means Peace. Empowerment. Employment. Leadership. Friendship.

She transformed those and other thoughts into a unique and inspirational drawing. She brightened her vision of inclusion with all the colors of the rainbow—and more. This week, Garrie’s original artwork was named the winner of the U.S. International Council on Disabilities annual Poster Contest!

Garrie had planned, prepared and worked on her submission for almost two months. Part of that involved reflecting on her personal experiences. “When drawing my poster, I thought of different words that helped me in my life—whether as an athlete or an employee," she said.

She chose a tree as a symbol of growth and positive change. "Trees continue to grow and their leaves continue to change, regardless of the circumstances," she said. "If trees can keep changing, then I believe people can change too.”

The contest called for artists to submit original work highlighting any one of the following themes: International Disability Rights & Inclusion, Equality & Inclusion for All, Leave No One Behind, and Economic Empowerment for All.

The competition is held by the USICD each year to help raise awareness about international disability rights issues, while allowing artists to showcase their talents. The contest was judged based on a clear message of inclusion and disability rights, creativity, originality, visual clarity, and artistic quality.

Garrie's winning poster will be featured on the cover page of USICD’s Annual Report. It will also be displayed at USICD’s upcoming gala to celebrate the International Day of Persons with Disabilities.

illustration of a hand coming out of the ground with words surrounding it. some of the words are, expression, freedom, dream, sports, religion, family, justice, and leadership