My name is Craig Blackburn. I am a peer/self-advocate and motivational speaker. My education started at three months of age at the ARC of New Orleans. When I was three years old, I entered the public school system and stayed in Special Ed until I was eight years old. At 8 years old, I was enrolled in a regular curriculum and I started working toward a regular high school diploma. My goal was to finish High School in 2000 with my classmates. I was in the band and played the saxophone. I was in ROTC in all 4 years of high school. I was a manager of the football team in middle school and high school. I earned my letter jacket as a senior. I played regular sports including baseball and basketball and also Special Olympics. I am active in my church as a 4th Degree in the Knights of Columbus. I earned my black belt in karate. One of my greatest honors at 14 was being selected as a foreign exchange student to Italy and there I had the lifetime experience of an audience with Pope John Paul II. In 1996, I carried the Olympic Torch as it passed through Louisiana on the way to Atlanta. My first experience acting as a self advocate was in 1998 when I was selected to participate in the President's Council on Mental Retardation Symposium in Washington, DC. In my senior year of high school I was voted by my classmates as the Male with the Most Spirit. One of the happiest moments of my life was the day I walked across the stage and received my regular high school diploma that I earned. I work at Winn Dixie and I have been there for 12 years. My hobbies include attending country music concerts, attending sporting events, traveling and meeting new friends. I am honored to be the godfather of my niece, Olivia. I am on the Board of Directors for People First of Louisiana. I am on the Board of Directors for Down Syndrome Association of Greater New Orleans. I graduated from an eight month training program called Partners in Policymaking that teaches individuals how to advocate for themselves or others with special needs and contribute in making a difference. My final project at Partners was to begin a career as a motivational speaker spreading the messages of ability, inclusion and participation in life for ALL! My first international speaking engagement was in 2009 in the Middle East. Through the program, A Home of My Own, I purchased a condo. I will soon celebrate my second anniversary in my own home' pretty awesome! I have been engaged to my girlfriend, Heather for over 5 years now and someday we hope to marry and begin our life together as Mr. and Mrs. Blackburn. If YOU asked ME what I believe made a difference in my life, I would say: God, family and friends, inclusion, and a belief that WE ALL CAN!