Faith CoLab: Tapestry of Faith: Heeding the Call: A Program on Justicemaking for Junior High School Youth

Activity 3: Abled and Less Abled

Activity time: 10 minutes

Materials for Activity

  • Newsprint, markers and tape
  • Pens or pencils
  • Lined paper

Description of Activity

Youth reflect on the word "disabled."

Ask youth what comes to mind when they hear the terms "disabled people" or "a disabled person." If there is a youth in the room with an obvious physical disability, invite them to go first by sharing what "disabled" means to them. Does being disabled mean that all abilities have been completely disconnected? Let the group know that this next activity will explore a different way to look at the word "disabled."

Pass out the paper. Invite youth to come up with three subjects or areas in which they feel "abled" and three subjects or areas in which they feel "less abled." Encourage them to think of areas in school as well as out of school. What about baking or cooking? What about with athletics, whether a team sport like basketball, or a game like hacky-sack? What about physical conditions like allergies or asthma? What about in drama or choir or with a musical instrument? Invite youth to write their lists on the paper using their dominant hand to write their "abled" list and their non-dominant hand to write their "less abled" list. Allow five minutes for youth to complete their lists.

Once everyone is finished, invite youth to create a group "Abled" and "Less Abled" list by sharing subjects or areas that they feel comfortable sharing whether or not those are included on their lists. Capture the list on newsprint.

When the lists are complete, invite youth to consider how ideas of "abled" and "disabled" are socially constructed. What does society consider "normal"? What does it value? Are some abilities more valued than others? Can a person lose an ability? Gain an ability? We all have items on our "less abled" list. Are we all "disabled"?

Invite youth to consider the other items on both lists and discuss how an item on one list could become an item on the other if society was structured differently. Invite volunteers to share their ideas.

Close by asking, "Does it make sense to table someone 'disabled' because they are unable or less able to do something others can do?"