Upstream Arts uses the power of the creative arts to activate and amplify the voice and choice of individuals with disabilities.
Our society values individuals and individual expression. However, many individuals with disabilities are often thought of or categorized as a group. They are put under the heading of their particular disability, or into the category of special needs. This historical and continued segregation between people with and without disabilities deprives us all of opportunities to be in community with each other.
We will change mindsets about ability and disability and promote more connected and engaged communities by increasing intentional opportunities for shared creative experiences.
Individuals with disabilities too often face situations in which they are perceived to be, act, appear, and learn differently than what is thought of as correct, normal, or mainstream. This is ableism.
WE ASSUME ABILITY: Participation looks different for everyone, but through creativity, flexibility, and choice, all can be included and find success.
ACCESS IS AN ATTITUDE: Creating physical access with automatic doors and ramps is necessary, but none of that matters if you don’t feel welcome when you enter a space.
INCLUSION HAPPENS IN THE ORDINARY MOMENTS: True access can be achieved through a consistent and intentional practice of doing the little things that say “I see you. I hear you. I notice you.”
To build inclusive communities we need to create spaces full of curiosity. We need to cultivate a practice of active, radical listening. We need to imagine and believe that every person in our community, even the person who looks, thinks, moves, or communicates differently also has friends, experiences disappointment, accomplishes goals, can be inspired, gets tired, has resolute beliefs, has both vulnerabilities and strengths, and has a rich bevy of stories to tell. We need to look beyond the perceived differences of disabilities and see the complex persona that is behind the veil of a label.