Disabilities can affect all aspects of life for those who have them, as well as for their families. But not all parts of our communities are set up to welcome and value individuals with disabilities. Churches, schools, media, community access—all of these sometimes contain structures that exclude, misconstrue, or devalue lives with disabilities, even if unintentionally. This two day conference aims to show how we can work to collectively restructure parts of our communities for the good of all.
Thursday, January 17
“From Community Access to Advocacy for All”
Abstract: Disability Advocates of Kent County works alongside people with disabilities as they seek to lead self-directed lives and to advocate for accessible and welcoming communities. Part of this work begins when we talk about the social stigmas, barriers and misconceptions surrounding the topic of disability, and work together to ensure that that everyone is included in all areas of life. Disability Advocates is pleased to sponsor this introductory conversation about what inclusion means for all of our communities.
Bio: Cassaundra Wolf is a Calvin College graduate and currently works as a Rehabilitation Counselor for people with disabilities. She utilizes her social work profession along with the lived experience of disability to promote access and inclusion for all.
“Incomplete Without You: The Church and People with Disabilities”
12:30-1:30, Covenant Fine Arts Center, January Series lecture
Abstract: What does it really mean to belong? This presentation will spur deeper reflection about the ways in which churches might welcome and weave people with disabilities and their families more fully into the life of the community. In moving from barriers to belonging, we discover the power of life lived together and how those at the margins are indispensable to the flourishing of everyone.
Bio: Erik Carter is Cornelius Vanderbilt Professor of Special Education and a researcher within the Vanderbilt Kennedy Center. His research and writing focus on supporting inclusion and valued roles in school, work, community, and congregational settings for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. He helps lead the Collaborative on Faith and Disability and the Putting Faith to Work project, as well as collaborates on the annual Summer Institute on Theology and Disability.
“Invisible Disabilities & Parent Advocacy”
Abstract: What are goals of parent advocacy for children with disabilities? How are they accomplished? Laura McMullen will explore this topic through the lens of the parent of a child with multiple invisible disabilities, touching on different forums and approaches to advocacy, and the framework she uses to know when and how to make the invisible visible.
Bio: Laura McMullen writes and speaks on prematurity, parent advocacy, and disability. She is active in parent support roles through Hands and Voices, DeafBlind Central, and a local NICU.
“Inclusion in School: Serving So All Can Experience the Blessing”
Abstract: Do you desire inclusion in your school, but don’t know how to make it happen? A partnership between home and school is a must. Join Kim Primus to hear what is needed to make inclusion in your school a reality. Inclusion will bless everyone!
Bio: Kim Primus is the Director of Inclusion at Grand Rapids Christian Schools. She holds a B.A. in Sociology, a M.A. in Elementary Education, and a M.Ed. in Early Childhood (General and Special Education).