Did you know that many of the people who fought adamantly for the passage of the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) met each other as teenagers at a summer camp?
I did not know this until recently. The story is told in the Netflix original film Crip Camp: A Disability Revolution. A group of disabled teenagers spent a portion of their summer at a very formative place called Camp Jened. Though they experienced a great deal of exclusion, discrimination, and isolation in their hometowns and local schools, they came alive in community with one another. It changed their lives and empowered them.
It empowered them much so that years later as adults, they blocked New York City traffic in wheelchairs, advocated fiercely for disability rights in Congressional hearings, and staged days-long occupation of legislative offices for the 504 sit-ins. The 504 sit-in in San Francisco lasted 28 days and is to this day the longest sit-in in a federal building. They just took over the place and shut it down.
And this amazing community of friends and chosen family met at a summer camp where they envisioned and enacted a new form of community. When they all arrived as individuals on buses at Camp Jened, they could not have imagined this. But relationships matter, and small groups of people can change the world. I take heart in this.
Change always has to start somewhere. Change always has to start in community somewhere. Here’s the trailer for Crip Camp: A Disability Revolution.
A bunch of bagels of different flavors. Public domain image.
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