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Governor's Council on Disability announces winners for 2023 annual recognition awards

The Governor's Council on Disability (GCD) has selected the award winner and honorable mention of the 32nd Annual Inclusion Award and the 11th Annual Youth Leadership Award.


The Inclusion Award, along with one Honorable Mention, is presented annually to private and public employers, individuals, businesses, or organizations in Missouri. Honorees are chosen for their exceptional, proactive and innovative measures to integrate and mainstream people with disabilities into their programs, activities and operations.


The Youth Leadership Award, also presented with one honorable mention, celebrates outstanding Missouri youths (aged 16-26) with a disability who have exhibited exemplary leadership by making a positive impact on their community.


2023 Inclusion Award winner: Alisha Favazza, Hollister R-V School District – Hollister, Mo.

Alisha Favazza, a dedicated educator at Hollister High School, champions inclusivity, promoting a school environment where every student feels valued and respected. Her passion for community engagement led to the development of transformative Community Based Learning Classes, fostering partnerships with over 13 local businesses and engaging students in five community events. These immersive experiences break down barriers and allow students to develop valuable life skills while building meaningful connections with the community.

Favazza, on right

Recognizing the importance of preparing students for their post-secondary lives, Favazza organized the inaugural Hollister Transition Fair. This landmark event brought together over 20 local agencies to connect students and their families with essential resources and support services. The fair's success, attracting participation from surrounding schools and exceeding expectations, is a testament to Favazza's vision and collaborative spirit.


Favazza's passion for inclusion has also brewed into a sweet success story with the student-run coffee shop. This initiative, envisioned and guided by her, provides students with disabilities with valuable hands-on learning opportunities, while simultaneously creating a sense of belonging and acceptance within the broader student body. The coffee shop welcomes all students with a smile, reminding everyone of the power of building a stronger, more inclusive community.


Favazza's dedication to inclusivity and student empowerment with disabilities has engendered a profound respect and admiration from students, colleagues and community members alike. Her consistent work shines a light on the positive change we can all create by welcoming diversity and building bridges of understanding.

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