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Reframing Disability Allyship in High School


Lauren and Kacey’s project sought to address the tendency of savior complexes to emerge when individuals begin venturing into disability allyship. The project addressed this issue by stepping into peer-to-peer classrooms in Bay City, Michigan and teaching them the concepts of disability justice. This was done through a collaborative art workshop in which students (a mix of disabled and able-bodied students) could put into practice the concepts that they were learning.

Project development

Lauren decided to address disability allyship because disability justice is something has profoundly impacted both herself and her family. The first step in developing this project was to research disability justice and develop a presentation. From there, Lauren and Kacey worked in communication with local school districts to coordinate a time to implement the workshop.

Lauren and Kacey were surprised at how engaged the students in the workshop already were on the topic. Revisiting her old high school and seeing the difference in culture with how students treated and talked about disabilities was truly inspiring. It was also a reminder that disability justice is an issue that most people care about and something that people are starting to pay attention to.

The most challenging part of the workshop was the facilitation of the art project. The project authors had vastly underestimated the amount of time that the art-based portion of the facilitation would take and that is certainly something that she will take into account next time. The workshops are in fact set to continue in partnership with the local school districts.

Updated October 2022