POLL/QUERY/QUESTION: Today, a comment on Twitter has me wondering


POLL/QUERY/QUESTION: Today, a comment on Twitter has me wondering… how are “special” proms for disabled people different from “crip” camps? Or are they? And if they are, how? cc: Jim LeBrecht, Susan R. Nussbaum, Anne Finger, Carrie Sandahl


Robin Mandell

Well…one thing I’m thinking is that, depending on the prom, a prom for disabled students could be more accessible in terms of sensory stuff. It’d be great if mainstream events were more accessible and neuro+physical-diversity friendly, but the reality is that there are things that some young people enjoy that are just not doable for a lot of us – bright lights, loud music, etc. But, I don’t know how proms for disabled students are actually playing out, if they’re taking this sort of thing into consideration or if it’s just an event for disabled students.

Lawrence Carter-Long

Was thinking more about the marketing and public perception of them as something do-gooders do for those who are “less fortunate.” But you make some good points.

Rebecca Cokley

Most often they’re not run by crips whereas some camps and most youth leadership forums are actually run by disabled people.

Lawrence Carter-Long

There’s something about the “aren’t we great for doing this?” vibe that I don’t remember feeling when I went to Camp Riley. Sure the thing was for crippled children but it was more neutral, more matter of fact in the mid 70s. Not so tinged with normates patting themselves on the back in the way that Tim Tebow’s events strike me today.

Rebecca Cokley

What’s interesting is that it was alumni from crip camps that started YLFs.

Cara Liebowitz

As a crip camp alumnus, I can say I never got the “patting themselves on the back” vibe from the staff. The donors, yes, absolutely, especially because they were mostly very wealthy Hamptonites. But not the director or any of the staff.

Erin Clark

I don’t remember the camps I went to being praised in the media for existing. They were businesses. and part charities – like ALL summer camps. One I went to was actually integrated into a not disabled camp. But the point was for us to camp, not for the attention of the camp directors or whoever… The funding agencies did do telethons so there’s that part… and some elements of the camp experience were a bit.. off … like having my poop catalogued like I was in a hospital.. so.. maybe they are both like and not like segregated events.

Carrie Sandahl

I thought about this when I saw your post with the article on the prom. I am all for inclusion AND having disability-specific events. As long as the disability-specific event are on our own terms and address our cultural mores AND as long as the inclusive events provide meaningful access and inclusion. As the director of a disability art and culture organization, I make this argument continually–that it’s not either/or it’s both/and.We can look at what other minority groups do as well. For instance, at UIC, we have Lavendar Graduation for LGBTQ communities AND the regular graduation. Students who want to attend both or one or the other. I’ve attended Lavendar Graduation as an advisor for a student participating in the ceremony, and it was incredible for those in attendence to be addressed specifically, across generations of support, in a safe and affirming space, and with culturally-specific content. AND I hooded my student at the main graduation. Both were meaningful and important. The most significant thing for me was that there were both. Both were choices.

Harry Block

In my experiences, Lavender Commencement & gay fraternities are created by the community themselves and totally inclusive…My argument against Night to Shine and other so-called disabled prom events is – It’s an outsider’s sense of charity creating the event – there for a real actual pity party.

Carrie Sandahl

I never went to crip camp, unless you count SDS. : )

Lawrence Carter-Long

I suspect that counts. 😉

Anne Finger

SDS definitely counts!

Cara Liebowitz

I was just thinking about this myself. I can’t put my finger on it but they’re different. They are. I’ll come up with a better answer later.

Jamie O'leary

Do you know anyone who has got a drone?

Alejandra Ospina

The best crip camps are about connecting with your tribe, by choice. These proms generally don’t feel that way.

Michael Reynolds

This, and the best crip camps don’t really treat us differently,they support what we want to do with our friends. I don’t think one night of a heterosexual focused “prom” (which seems almost fetishizing disability romance to this semi-adult like state) just seems off.

Harry Block

I went to a so-called Crip-Camp and I can see the related argument – and even agree in some ways.Seperate is never equal.

Alex Wegman

I went to crip camp for like 10 summers (I also went to mainstream camps every summer) and I never felt like someone was doing me a favor. It felt like home—an accessible environment and the chance to connect with disabled peers and try new things. It was business as usual. The staff was there because they loved kids and the outdoors, and they had the skills to provide care to folks who needed the extra hand. Not a novelty experience so they could feel good about themselves. Many were also disabled. A high school in my area threw a crip prom and invited my wheelchair basketball team, and it felt icky. They were self-congratulatory and everything felt cheesy and overdone. I felt like we were on parade in order to make a bunch of football players and cheerleaders feel good about themselves and to give them something to put under “Community Involvement” on college apps.

Nate Woogen

Best were the special proms at the crip camps. Cara Liebowitz

Cara Liebowitz

I mean…we did have fun ?


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