Ethos partners with EPIC to bring Anti-Ableism workshops to Boston Housing Authority residents.
Valéria Souza, Ethos’ Resident Services Coordinator (a partnership with the Boston Housing Authority) noticed that many of the residents of the six Boston Housing Authority buildings in which she works are disabled. Many expressed to her that they experienced inequities based on their abilities. To help combat this issue, Valéria approached Empowered People for Inclusive Communities (EPIC) .EPIC is a community service program for young people with disabilities. The program delivers training workshops to the Boston community on ableism, disabilities and disability rights.
Though coordination with Valéria, Jeff Lafata, Founder and Executive Director of EPIC, and Ethan Linsky, Youth Programs Specialist, delivered workshops to the residents of the Hassan and Rockland Towers communities. They helped residents re-think disabilities by talking about the biases against people with disabilities and how this manifests in different ways such as employment hiring. As a group, the EPIC staff and BHA residents also explored the manifestation and impact of biases toward visible disabilities, such as Down Syndrome or paralysis, and invisible disabilities, such as chronic illnesses like cancer, lupus or asthma.
Of the experience of leading the trainings, Jeff said, “working with the Hassan and Rockland communities through EPIC’s Ableism workshops was a great experience for us. To have the opportunity to explore this issue with a group of people who have experienced ableism in different ways generationally provided an opportunity for rich and educational conversation for everyone involved to understand the realities of this oppression, how it has changed over time, and how we can all advocate to ensure our communities are inclusive of all.”
The residents said that they had not heard of the term “ableism” and some said they had lived experiences of ableism but did not know that there was a term for it. They said that they found the workshop to be “very empowering”.
“The EPIC presentation was very informative. I appreciated the way that they showed us how big the category of disability is. You don’t realize how broad it can be —- especially with all the invisible disabilities. There’s a lot of ableism in society. People with disabilities are constantly having to ‘prove’ that they’re ‘really’ disabled and ask for accommodations. What would it look like if accessibility was a given everywhere, for everyone?” – Carla T., Hassan Resident
Valéria felt that the workshops had a positive impact on the communities. “I wanted to bring this programming into the buildings because most residents live with one or more disabilities and because ableism is so pervasive in our society and yet so often unrecognized. After these workshops, I noticed that residents felt more empowered to identify and challenge ableism in their communities.”
For more information about EPIC and their community trainings, please visit: https://www.epicleaders.org/community-trainings
To learn more about Ethos’ Resident Services Coordination Program with the Boston Housing Authority, please contact Valéria Souza at firstname.lastname@example.org.