It is with great sadness that we heard of the death of Ms Wang Xiaogeng, founder of Rong Ai Rong Le Family Support Center for Persons with Intellectual Disability and a leading advocate for the rights of persons with intellectual disabilities in China.
Xiaogeng’s life is proof that committed individuals can bring about positive change in the world. Drawing from the experience of her son, Chen Wu, who has a profound learning disability, Xiaogeng pioneered the concept of supported employment in China. She saw how deeply Chen Wu benefited from inclusive education and supported employment while she and her family lived in the United States. On returning to China she devoted the rest of her life to promoting social inclusion for people with intellectual disabilities. When I first met Xiaogeng in October 2011, she and a small group of parents in Beijing were in the process of setting up Rong Ai Rong Le, which later led to the founding of Inclusion China – now one of the most important and influential parents’ organisations in the country.
At our first meeting I was touched and impressed by Xiaogeng’s warmth, modesty and intense commitment to her cause. Seeing the anxiety and hopelessness felt by so many families of people with intellectual disabilities, she passionately believed that society has a responsibility to help individuals realize their potential and enjoy dignified lives. Convincing others of this was not an easy task, but she embraced it with compassion and common sense. Xiaogeng leaves a profound legacy in the communities she helped build: parents, young people in supported employment, and the many friends, colleagues and people with intellectual disabilities who have benefited from her vision. She contributed to building a more equal and compassionate society in China.
Wang Xiaogeng died in Beijing on 12th September 2017 after living with cancer for several years. She leaves her husband, Mr Chen Guomin, and her son Chen Wu, as well the many friends in China and overseas who miss her deeply. She will live forever in our hearts.
Chair, China Vision (UK)