News

Student Exhibit & Partnership with Easter Seals Promotes Empathy and Understanding

The 2019-2020 Sophomore Biography Project invites the community to join our students in a broad reaching, county-wide, empathy project for people with disabilities.
Over the years, Out-of-Door sophomores and students from Easterseals’ VIP Academy, a school for high school-aged students with varying exceptionalities, have come together for a series of interactions designed to promote empathy and understanding.

This year’s project earned a grant with the Florida Humanities Council for its focus on engaging students at both schools in an exploration of archives that had been stockpiled in an internal vault at Easterseals. The dive into history came as students considered and researched objects through a kind of “artifactual” education of the history of people in Sarasota with disabilities and the services available to them.

The project “Coming Out of History’s Dark Corners” expanded the work from our students’ visits with their partners to classroom exploration of historical artifacts and collaboration with local historians and disability advocates in Sarasota. The final product is an exhibit of photographs and artifacts that depict the marginalization of local Sarasota citizens with disabilities over the past 75 years. The focus on developing empathy, the greatest goal of the project, continued through interactions between the students on our respective campuses.

“I loved getting to know Shannon as she opened up to me. I learned how many hardships she has had to battle. Shannon is an inspiring woman who shows that even when bad things happen, having people by your side can help you persevere,” said Senja Levy ‘22. “My archive project was Project Rainbow, which was a daycare that met once a month to play sports all day with people with disabilities. I felt like partnering with Easterseals was a more advanced 21st century Project Rainbow.”

The students’ exhibit at the old Chidsey Library in Sarasota is open to the public from 10 am to 3 pm on Fridays in March.

Read the Herald Tribune’s coverage of the exhibit in “SEIDMAN: Disability Progress Then and Now.
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