Harper College

Harper celebrates Disability Awareness Month with dance, art and more

Photo portraits of artists Genevieve Ramos and Grishma Shah

As part of Disability Awareness Month, Harper College will host the Embracing Feminism and Intersectionality Art Exhibit, featuring works by former Harper student Genevieve Ramos (left) and Dr. Grishma Shah.

Harper College is celebrating Disability Awareness Month in March with a variety of events – highlighting the disability rights movement, fostering inclusivity through dance and spotlighting intersectionality via visual art.

“These events are shared experiences for individuals with and without disabilities,” said Rebecca Ramirez-Malagon, interim director of Harper’s Access and Disability Services (ADS) office.

ADS is spearheading the month of programming in collaboration with other groups on campus, including the LAND (Learning about Abilities, Not Disabilities) Employee Resource Group, the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, the ADS Success Club, the Liberal Arts Division, Social Justice Studies, and Community of Practice – Teaching for Equity. The free events – which include a dance workshop, documentary screening, job fair and art exhibit – are open to students, employees, alumni and everyone in the greater Harper community.

“Disability is a word that has many, many meanings,” said April Maman, ADS access advocate. “We want to emphasize that disability is a good word and [through these events] we can share people’s stories, their journeys, their experiences.”

Disability Awareness Month Events

All events are free and open to everyone.


Embracing Feminism and Intersectionality Art Exhibit

Opening Reception (and more):1-4 p.m. March 8
Where: Harper College, Building P, Room P202, 1200 W. Algonquin Road, Palatine

Works will be on display March 8-21. More information.


Crip Camp: A Documentary

When: 3-4:30 p.m. March 9
Where:Cultural Center, Building D, Room D281

Student Discussion: Noon-1 p.m. March 14, Building D, Room D178. More information.


EveryBody Can Dance Workshop

When: Noon-1 p.m. March 13
Where:Building D Rotunda. More information.


Northern Cook Country Job Fair for Individuals with Disabilities

When: 1-3 p.m. March 22
Where: Harper College Learning and Career Center, 1375 S. Wolf Road, Prospect Heights. More information.

One way of expressing that is through painting, which is the focus of the Embracing Feminism and Intersectionality Art Exhibit, which begins with a reception and discussion on March 8 in Building P, Room P202 on Harper’s Palatine campus, 1200 W. Algonquin Road (see box for more details). The exhibit will feature the work of former Harper student Genevieve Ramos and Dr. Grishma Shah, two women artists with disabilities who explore the intersectionality of their identities through graphic arts.

“The purpose of the gallery event is for the artists to show how their disabilities have impacted their lives through art, through painting,” Maman said. “And it’s nice to remind everyone that people with disabilities have very productive lives.”

Similar reminders can be found in other events, including the Northern Cook County Job Fair for Individuals with Disabilities on March 22 (at Harper’s Learning and Career Center in Prospect Heights) or the March 9 screening of Crip Camp (in the Cultural Center, Building R, Room D281). The 2020 documentary focuses on people who bonded at a camp for teenagers with disabilities, then worked to enact accessibility legislation. The screening will be followed by separate discussion sessions for employees and students, the latter sponsored by Access Success Club and Social Justice Studies.

“These events emphasize disability law, but it’s more than just the legal perspective,” Maman said about the slate of events, made possible by an internal Resource for Excellence Grant Award. “Students can have fun and share their experiences, through activities including dance.”

 Flyer for Disability Awareness Month Events 2023EveryBody Can Dance, on March 13, will be led by dance artists and disability advocates Kris Lenzo and Maggie Bridger, who see dance as an opportunity to include people of all abilities. In addition, Maman pointed out not only the wide spectrum of disabilities, but how some are visible, and others are invisible, or can be, depending on when and how you interact with an individual.

“We want to be sensitive to that, because it’s easy to make assumptions,” she said. “We serve everyone at Harper.”

That pertains not only to events, but to everything else that goes on in the college’s classrooms and on campus. Ramirez-Malagon shared that ADS is a student support office that will celebrate its 50th anniversary later in 2023, commemorating five decades of assisting students and educating the community at large. Click here for more information on ADS.

“ADS is a guarantee that individuals have access to everything at Harper with reasonable accommodations,” Maman said. “We welcome our students to come by and ask questions.”

Last Updated: 3/14/24