Community Champions: Elite Squad Works to Change Perspectives on People with Disabilities

There are many aspects to consider when it comes to being a champion for the disability community, whether it is providing care and support, offering a social network, or strengthening the voices of people with disabilities. 

Elite Squad Inc., founded in June 2023 by Dorinda Peterson and Amy Hines, is an advocacy and social connection group in metro Atlanta dedicated to changing societal perspectives on how people interact and engage with people with disabilities. The group accomplishes its mission by hosting and leading various social events for people of all backgrounds to meet, learn various life skills, and have a great time.

“Our mission is to change the perspective on how people interact, engage, and view individuals with disabilities because once we change our perspective, it will allow us to be more inclusive, with meaningful jobs, employment, and lifestyles,” said Peterson. “Our members know that it is great to have fun, but when you are in the real world, you must take care of business, too. If you want to be taken seriously, you must take yourself seriously. You deserve to have the life that you choose.”

The Elite Squad encourages individuals with disabilities to be engaged in society and make their voices heard, whether by getting married, pursuing a life that brings them happiness, or doing their civic duty of voting and participating in legislation to advocate for laws that benefit the disability community.

“Elite Squad is rewriting the narrative that people with disabilities do not have the tools or abilities to express themselves,” added Jalen Lovemore, the program manager and social media manager of Elite Squad.

Peterson and Hines founded the Elite Squad after they met and worked at a program for individuals with disabilities. While there, they noticed that people’s voices were not heard and self-advocacy was not a focus. Here, the pair came together and identified areas in which advocacy could be taught, encouraged, and practiced in their own program, DnA Skills 4 Life, a lifestyle skills center for individuals with disabilities. From there, the pair expanded their efforts into a social networking group, and thus, the Elite Squad was established.

“The general mindset among the people with disabilities in the program [we met in] was complacency rather than growth,” noted Peterson. “Many of the individuals in the program were ages 35 to 85, but they were still coloring and often treated like children. We wanted to show these people that they could have the lives that they deserve.”

Elite Squad dancingElite Squad hosts various events, including its annual gala, dances, parties, campouts, and voting engagement events. Within these events, the group integrates education opportunities that allow people with disabilities to learn about advocacy, leadership, and other important skills they can utilize in their everyday lives.

“One important aspect of Elite Squad is that the individuals also give back to their communities,” Hines stated. “That is a critical part of advocacy: being able to speak for the needs of others and not just for themselves.”

For more information about Elite Squad, email dorindapeterson@elitesquad.inc.com, visit www.elitesquadinc.org or visit them on social media at the following:

  • Facebook: Elite Squad INC 
  • Instagram: @elitesquadinc
  • TikTok: @elite.squad25