#IWantToWork’s Lead Legislative Advocate, William Del Toro Vargas, has been honored with the Arc of Philadelphia’s Eleanor Elkin Award for his advocacy on behalf of the disability community.
The Eleanor Elkin Award was presented during the Arc of Philadelphia’s annual membership event, held each May. It is awarded to an individual whose work carries on Ms. Elkin’s advocacy for persons with disabilities. Ms. Elkin served as president of both The Arc of the United States and The Arc of Pennsylvania. She was also active in the movement to close the former Pennhurst Center in Pennsylvania and move people with developmental disabilities out of institutions into the broader community.
The award praises William, a pre-law student at Temple University, for is advocacy of HB 400 (now Act 26 of 2016) that will ensure high school students with disabilities get part-time and summer job while in high school.
Signed into law on May 17 by Gov. Tom Wolf, the law works to ensure the Office of Vocational Rehabilitation is fully funded as it works with students with disabilities. Will had an important role in advocating for the 2015-2016 state budget that included $24 million in state and federal funds to help the Office of Vocation Rehabilitation assist teenagers with disabilities get paid, integrated summer and out of school employment.
“William has been at the forefront in Pennsylvania of fighting for employment for youth with disabilities,” said Tanya Regli, Executive Director of the Arc of Philadelphia. “His personal journey as a self-advocate is a poignant and remarkable testament to the courage it takes to overcome the obstacles to employment for people with disabilities.”
William has overcome numerous obstacles due to his autism as he graduated as valedictorian of his high school class, earned an Associate’s Degree from the Community College of Philadelphia, and now, is engaged in pre-law studies at Temple University.
In his work with the #IWantToWork campaign, he is responsible for creating and maintaining contacts with Pennsylvania legislators. He tracks levels of support for #IWantToWork legislation, keeps the campaign updated with legislative activities, and always has a bright smile to share.
Congratulations on this well deserved honor, Will!