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Katy Flood is currently a senior at Evanston Township High School and is part of the Senior Studies class and is also working on a project featuring people with disabilities. Katy intends to present her project about people living with disabilities through a documentary currently in the works. Please be sure to look for the release date for this documentary coming soon.

I started this journey with Katy by asking her where she grew up. She said “I grew up here in Evanston. I was born in Chicago but moved to Evanston when I was two and been here ever since for 15 years.”

It sounded like she is really proud about being from Evanston, and I really loved her answer. I also wanted to know her thoughts about people with disabilities, especially in Evanston.

I asked, “What connection do you have to disabilities?”

Katy said “I had never talked to or interacted with anyone with a disability until I walked the hallways of ETHS. When I was a freshman I was 14 years old and decided to join a group called Best Buddies, because my sister’s good friend was running it at the time. Since joining, I have been a part of the disabilities community for the past four years of high school. Right now I’m involved in several activities and I kind of revolve my life around people with disabilities.”

Asked about how she feels about the word “disabilities” and what some may call a stigma associated with the word, Katy said, “So I think the word disability was put in this world to hold people back and when I hear the word disability I don’t even think what the actual word even means. Their definition does not mean “able,” but when I hear the word I think of other words like smart, strong, perseverance, resilience and I think that the whole meaning has changed for me since being involved in the community of people with disabilities.”

I really liked Katy’s version of the definition, and it made me realize that my definition or replacement word for disability, which is “exceptionality,” really goes hand-in-hand with what Katy sees as the real meaning or definition of disabilities.

Once again, I wanted to know more about Katy and I asked her, “What quote do you live by?” She replied, “I think I live by the quote, ‘Make It Happen.’ My dad actually printed and taped it on the fridge because it’s a simple and short reminder that you can make it happen whatever it is.”

This quote moved me and I asked, “Do you like the word ‘disabilities’? How does it make you feel?”

She paused for a moment and replied, “No, I really hate the word ‘disabilities,’ because I think it was put in this world to hold people back like I said before. Like black and white, race, handicap, dividing things such as by religion, and dividing things because you’re being different. I think the word ‘disability’ is adding to the system of if you’re different that’s bad. I think it carries a bad stigma, a negative stereotype, and in the end the dictionary definition is you’re not able and that’s the opposite of what they have shown me. They have shown me that they’re more than able. So I would never call anyone to have a disability.”

Lauren Jeanne Miller is a senior at Evanston Township High School. For her Senior Studies project she will interview people in Evanston. Senior Studies is a class that combines English, history, and community service. People with “”exceptionalities”” are people with disabilities who persevere in what they love. Through this project, Lauren hopes to compare and contrast people’s stories and to empower the people who have not had relationships with people with exceptionalities, showing why giving support to people with exceptionalities is important to society.