Center for Diversity at KCC to host “Ableism 101” event April

A view of the reflecting pools area in front of the North Avenue campus on a sunny summer day.

The Center for Diversity and Innovation at Kellogg Community College will host a community discussion event facilitated by a pair of social workers this month focused on issues related to ableism and disability.

The event, titled “Ableism 101: Everything You Know About Disability Is (Probably) Wrong,” will run from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Thursday, April 20, in the Lew Boyd Room of the Kool Family Community Center, 200 Michigan Ave. W, Battle Creek. The event is free and open to the public.

Ableism is a term for the belief that it is better to be non-disabled than it is to be disabled. According to the CDI, ableism “is also about the way society purposefully designs physically and socially segregated systems, then blames us for not fitting in, or for making inclusion ‘too hard’ to do.”

During the CDI event, presenters Leatrice Fullerton and Michele McGowen, social workers at Disability Network Southwest Michigan, will discuss and dismantle harmful cultural ideas around disability.

Event participants will have the opportunity to:

  • Explore how the language we use around disability can be a key component in supporting equality or perpetuating stigma
  • Identify and challenge their own potential unconscious biases around disability
  • Learn how to support the disability rights and disability justice community in Southwest Michigan

Presenters Fullerton and McGowen are committed to educating communities about the far-reaching impacts of systemic ableism and how people can be anti-ableist in their lives, workplaces and communities.

Fullerton has 33 years of experience confronting ableist attitudes, barriers and low expectations as a person who is blind. She was one of just nine people invited to participate in a Google Hangout with President Barack Obama in 2014, and during their conversation chose to bring attention to the topic of inclusion of people with disabilities in the workplace. Fullerton is passionate about mentoring women with disabilities and assisting them with recognizing and confronting ableist attitudes within themselves on their journey to disability pride.

McGowen began her work in the disability rights movement as an ally in 1998, doing community organizing and public education around a myriad of disability rights issues. She fully joined the disability community in 2013 and continues her work as a manager and trainer around ableism and disability rights, mentoring the next generation of leaders in the disability rights movement.

For more information about this event, contact Timeaka Reese, executive assistant at the KCC CDI, at

Please note: The KCC CDI seeks to be as inclusive as possible in all its events, and asks all guest to be fragrance-free. Please contact Sara Johnson at or 269-565-2107 with any accessibility requests. Guests who need child care must RSVP by noon April 20.

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