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Voices of Arizona: Marissa goes to the state Capitol

By Kathy Ritchie
Published: Thursday, April 13, 2023 - 4:30pm
Updated: Friday, April 14, 2023 - 8:29am

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KJZZ brings you news from throughout the state. The most important stories impact everyday Arizonans. Voices of Arizona bring you the real people behind the headlines. 

Marissa Holland
Kathy Ritchie/KJZZ
Marissa Holland is an athlete with Special Olympics Arizona. She' visited the state capitol to share her story why inclusion matters to the disability community.

Marissa Holland is a student at Chino Valley High School in Yavapai County. She’s also an athlete with Special Olympics Arizona. 

"I've competed in a lot of them, but my favorite sport so far is bocce," she said. "Definitely."

Holland is part of something called Unified Sports. There are athletes with disabilities, like Holland, "I have high-functioning autism, and I’ve worked on it for a very long time."

And what they call partners — students who do not. 

On this day, Holland and others are at the state Capitol to talk to Republican Sen. Ken Bennett.

"I want them to learn from me that this is an important thing, that we can't shun the people who are like me or have physical disabilities," said Holland.

And being shunned is something Holland knows a little bit about.

"I was a little bit shunned. People don't usually take the time of day."

As the group heads into the elevator, they get a pep talk from their teacher. 

"Don't be afraid. Just be yourselves when we're in there. Marissa knows that. They’re people just like us," she told them.

The message Marissa hopes to impart is one of inclusion. A few minutes later the group heads back to the senator's office.

PoliticsVoices of Arizona Disability