Episode 7: Hannah Gallivan and Kathryn Carroll

On this episode of the podcast, we’re joined by Hannah Gallivan and Kathryn Carroll.

Hannah and Kathryn met through the Disability EmpowHER Network mentoring program. As part of the program, Hannah took on research into how to prepare for a disaster when you have a service animal; her research is now part of the Green Mountain Emergency Preparedness Guide. We talk about the EmpowHER Network, leadership and independence, and the value of mentors for people with disabilities, service animal accommodations, and making real world change. Plus accessibility in the theater!

A full transcript of the episode appears below.

Audrey Homan: I’m Audrey Homan. Welcome to another episode of CDCI Connects, I am here with Hannah Galvin and Katie Carol. And today we’re going to talk about their experiences with disability and mentoring and service, animal outreach, and a bunch of other things. Could I ask each of you to introduce yourselves? Tell us your full name where you’re from, and a little bit about your experience with disability. Hannah, I’m gonna ask you to go first.

Hannah Galvan: Yeah. Hi, I’m Hannah Gallivan. I’m from Bristol, Vermont. And I have cerebral palsy and I live with it, and it’s a big part of who I am. So yeah, that’s my experience with it.

Katie Carroll: And I’m Katherine Carroll. I go by Katie. I live in Albany, New York. I’m a disabled woman. I happen to be a lawyer. I work in disability and aging services generally. And I was I got to meet Hannah through the Disability and Power Network.

Audrey Homan: Can you tell me a little bit more about how the two of you met? Like, how did, how did that, that meeting come about? Did you both sign up for the network? Were you kind of randomly assigned? Did you seek each other out or find each other in some way?

Hannah Galvan: So I applied for, We met through Empower Camp which is one of the programs that the Empower Network does among other things. And I applied for what was then, or what is the first year of camp, which is really exciting. Me and the group of other people are the inaugural group, so that’s very exciting. And a friend sent me the application and was like, Hey, I think this would be really cool for you to do. And so during our first part of the program, which when we spent a week together in the Arons, we talked about what our projects would be like, and then we got paired up with mentors. And on my end, I got to write down a couple of people who I would’ve wanted to mentor me and also like what I was looking for in a mentor. And so Katie and I were paired up and we’ve been working together on my product for the last year-ish or so. And yeah, that’s how I met Katie on my side. But if you have anything to add, Katie, go ahead.

Katie Carroll: Sure. So I joined, I’m in, I’m very involved with the Disability and Power Network, and I volunteered to be, to work at the camp, but also serve in this mentor role. So it went well beyond the, you know, just the week of camp that we had. And it’s been a pleasure to work with Hannah and have that like mentor-mentee relationship that I think, I mean, it’s the, the purpose of disability and power Network. We recognize the need of youth particularly girls and non-binary folks with disabilities for mentorship. And I, I honestly feel like I’m being mentored. So,

Audrey Homan: Hannah, you mentioned that you have been working together with Katie on your project. Can you tell us a little bit about what that project is?

Hannah Galvan: Yeah. so as part of the program all of the girls in the program are supposed to have a, like, not, it’s not a super formal project, but just like something they wanna work on regarding disability and disaster preparedness and emergency situations. So during that, we can add around to, as we sort of started brainstorming, and Stephanie, our executive director, was like, When you think about these projects think about something that you’re really interested in and wanna take that sort of lens and how can it relate to like disaster preparedness. So I am really passionate about service animals and actually in the process I’m waiting to get one myself.

And I was struck by the fact that you are able to bring your service dog anywhere. But what happens if you’re in an emergency situation and you need to bring your dog to a shelter? So that’s basically where my project stemmed from. And like in a nutshell, it’s, and Katie, if I’m missing anything in my explanation here, you’re free, feel free to chime in. But in a nutshell, it is a project focused on making sure that who work at those emergency shelters are educated around service animals and what they do and making sure that people with disabilities who have those service animals are able to be accommodated and welcomed into those shelters with their animals.

Katie Carroll: So, yeah, and you and I, we did a lot of research. We kind of learned about the landscape of what tools and guides and things and information is available to people in Vermont, especially on the internet, you know, where a lot of people go for info information. And you kind of you ended up focusing on what the individual can do, what you know we can do to prepare ourselves. And you ultimately focused on this guide that CDCI was initially a part of. And we went from there. We wanted to improve it, make it acknowledge the role that a service animal may play in someone’s life and what people should think about when, you know, you might have to evacuate your home and go somewhere else.

Audrey Homan: So Hannah, what’s the most interesting thing you discovered in your research around service animals and emergency preparedness?

Hannah Galvan: That’s a really good question, and my answer would kind of be the opposite of that, which is the most interesting thing I discovered was that there’s not a lot of information out there to begin with. Like a lot of I went into this project just being like, Oh, I’ll do a couple of, at least this was my mindset, I’m not sure about you, Katie. I was like, Oh, I’ll do a couple of Google searches, I’ll find what I need to find, like, it’ll be great. And it ended up, we both sort of went down really big Google rabbit holes trying to find any information that we could about emergency situations and service animals.

There was a lot about emergency situations and different links to stuff, but not much pertaining to people with disabilities or, even less pertaining to people with disabilities and service dogs. So for me, I was, that was really interesting because then I really realized how needed this information is, and I’m really happy that I got to be a part of getting it out there to people. And I guess for me, just realizing how much it was needed really made me especially passionate about this project.

Katie Carroll: May I answer that question too? Okay. so it was interesting for me, So I’m in New York, like I mentioned, and we’re talking about, you know, improving things in Vermont for Vermonters with disabilities. So it was interesting for me to see what the, the, I guess the lay of the land is in terms of emergency preparedness, like the government entities and who’s involved and what’s called what and whether, you know, regional things versus statewide things. And I guess to Hannah’s point, like there’s information out there, but it can be really confusing and discouraging to disabled folks.

When information focuses on companion animals and pets or, you know, makes vague, or not vague, but kind of indefinite statements like, you know, you may be able to bring your service animal with you to a shelter. Well, what does that mean? I may <laugh> like, I’m legally allowed, you know, this is, you know, I’m, you know, I’m legally allowed to bring my service animal with me. It’s like, what are the barriers to that? So I guess it’s more interesting and also not surprising. It was, it was good to do a lot of research.

Audrey Homan: This question is for both of you. But do you feel like having this connection through the mentorship changed the way that you approached research for the project or changed what you were able to accomplish in researching the role of service animals and disaster preparedness?

Hannah Galvan: Again, really good question. I think for me, I know that it was really helpful knowing that I would have a mentor because like going into it because I was initially like really overwhelmed about like, Oh, this is this project and it can be so broad and about whatever topic I want. And like, I was initially like, how am I gonna do this? Like, I don’t really know where to start. So I think for me, like from the beginning and knowing that I would have a mentor just sort of gotten me through this and give another perspective. And I’ve had meetings with Katie throughout this process and she’s brought up stuff that I wouldn’t have thought about and vice versa. So I think it’s really valuable to like have another perspective especially when you’re doing this work.

 I also tend to just like get really overwhelmed in general when I have something going on. And Katie was really good about being like, You’re doing great, Like you’re doing, you’re doing great. So that was really nice. And I think it was, it was like throughout the process of like not finding stuff and just about this really kind of specific topic is really nice to also have my mentor p a disabled woman because we had that unique experience of like sharing that in common. And that was really nice. So,

Katie Carroll: So I guess I have two thoughts about in my answer to that question. So yeah, h Hannah has kind of started us on, on one of them, which is knowing to how to like bite off what we can chew <laugh> in terms of like advocacy and what we can change and recognizing that a little can go a long way. So yeah, we didn’t, you know, we didn’t go full on like training people in shelters or anything like that, but we identified a place where, you know, we could get people to think about an additional need you know, as part of their whole emergency, you know, their individual emergency preparedness plan. So yeah, that, I guess that’s something that I guess changed or that we realized along the way. And then another is that we, I guess we have to keep in mind like what, you know, we’ve, we’ve all spent a lot of time thinking about this, but not everyone has the capacity to do that.

You know, like we, you know, if we’re living it, talking about it, like we’re a little bit more resourced so we might know where to look for things. And I guess this isn’t so much a change, it’s just like a reminder going through the process of, you know, what, what is just, you know, that a, you know, that person that’s just looking for assistance or information, like what are they gonna find? How confusing is it gonna be? And how do we just, how do we reach that person, not the people who get to think about disability and awareness all the time.

Hannah Galvan: Yeah, I would agree with that completely.

Audrey Homan: This is a question for Hannah. Hannah, what is one thing that you hope that readers of the Green Mountain Emergency Preparedness Guide take away from your research on service animals during disasters? Is there one particular thing that you hope everyone who sees your research takes away from it?

Hannah Galvan: I guess like, I don’t know whether the audience of the title, the, I assume it won’t just be disabled people, but other people in general, if they’re curious just how instrumental service animals are to people and how much misconception and sometimes misinformation is out there about, like, there’s so many different types of service dogs and they all do completely different things. And I think in our society there’s a lot of like not very clear information on what they do and how they’re important. So I would just hope that people really recognize how instrumental they are and like feel a little more educated walking away from reading the guide.

My process was, I didn’t edit the whole thing cuz it’s pretty long, but I did add like a service dog page to the already existing format. And then I also added like an FAQ page. So I’m hoping that people will just come away from it having learned something new or recognizing the importance of the work that these animals do because it’s really, really valuable and they help people like myself every day in all of these different ways. So yeah. Okay.

Audrey Homan: As someone who doesn’t have a service animal I had not really considered the role of, or the impact of service animals during a disaster. Did you do any, did you find that there was a need for any outreach to people who don’t have service animals to understand how to support people with disabilities who need service animals during a disaster?

Hannah Galvan: That is a really good question. I don’t think we didn’t end up asking like specifically people who like didn’t have service animals. We did, you know, we had a meeting with you and a bunch of the other people who worked on the guide. That would’ve been an interesting conversation definitely to have though. I would be curious what the people’s disabled people’s relationships to that is versus if they have a dog versus if they don’t. And whether they would think about it or not or think about like getting one themselves.

That’s a really good conversation to have. I would be curious to see what people would say. And like as for people who aren’t to say disabled and know about service dogs, I think there’s a, there’s a saying in like the service dog, or not a saying, but like a phenomenon in the service dog community called Service dog Frog, where people will actually by like service dog vests for their regular pets and like pass them off as like emotional service animals.

 Which obviously there are licensed and registered emotional service animals, but a lot of people who don’t actually have a need for them tend to take advantage of that. And so I think it really contributes to the like misinformation around service dogs And there’s been new policies for airlines. They have said like only dogs in the last couple of years or so because people have wanted all of their animals to be with them on a plane. And the airlines were like, Okay, we’re just gonna take docks because this kind of getting out of hand. So that’s a really, it’s a really interesting thing that happens.

And I think when you actually are a person with a service dog, it sort of undermines your ability to like walk into a certain business and have obviously the official vest and the paper somewhere, but like, feel like you need to explain yourself because there’s so many existing cases of people who don’t actually need them. So it’s, it’s a really interesting it’s a really interesting thing to think about. And obviously like people obviously have emotional service dogs, but it’s really interesting the fact that people will take advantage of that.

Audrey Homan: I’d like to ask the flip side of the question that I just asked, which is Hannah Wall, you were doing research into service animals and disaster preparedness. Did you do a lot of outreach to other people who are involved in the service dog or service animal community? Is this something that, that you are seeing a lot of input on from other people with disabilities?

Hannah Galvan: So I didn’t actually, we had thought about reaching out to different organizations who provide service dogs. But then we were talking about it and were like, they probably wouldn’t give away their client information or whatever cuz we were trying to find people who have service dogs in Vermont for a little bit. It would’ve been interesting I think like if I ever do something like this again, it would’ve been interesting to like loop in my service dog organization, they’re called needs and they are in Massachusetts. And I’m sure they would have a really valuable perspective on this sort of work, but I didn’t actually end up getting to talk with some organizations which would’ve been really valuable,

Katie Carroll: I guess. Well I, I mean I felt this way, maybe Hannah of felt this way also, but I struggled with the concept of, you know, having feeling like you have to make the case, right? Like there are so many of this type of disabled person and that’s why you need to pay attention. But we know in reality it’s like, well we all have rights. Like even if there’s one person who needs, you know, to bring their service animal with them to a shelter, like this is worth it for them. So, Right. Like Hannah said, we didn’t, we didn’t go down the route of pursuing those numbers. I do think that would be interesting to have, you know, those data sets in the future, getting a sense for how big that population is.

It wouldn’t be perfect because people are, you know, permitted by law to train your own service animals. Cause it’s not like you’re necessarily connected to one, you know, trainer organization or another. And so I guess that’s my little call for folks that do, you know, data collection and I guess statistics <laugh>, oh, it would be nice to have that. I guess I’ll plug like some grassroots advocacy being done by this data, D I S D A T A who are trying to, you know, highlight the gaps in disability-related data collection and how can we advocate for better, better information.

Audrey Homan: That’s funny because that actually ties into the next question that I had for the two of you, which is Hannah, you specifically mentioned, you know, if you do this again, are you planning on continuing this type of research into service animal acceptance and, and service animal accommodation?

Hannah Galvan: I kind of have a layered answer on this. So I don’t know if I would ever do this specific research and work again around emergencies specifically. But I do know like when I do get my service dog I’m gonna do research and I’m gonna like, I want to encourage other disabled people. And my service dog organization actually just, they send out this monthly newsletter and they just announced that they’ve got Walmart to stop selling service dog vests in their stores.

Which is a really big deal because a lot of companies like that, like Amazon, like sell them commercially and you can just, you know, buy one. And so I definitely think like I’ll continue like service dog advocacy work in some sense because I will have one at some point. But yeah, I don’t really know. It might, it might really be something I’m passionate about again. And if I do, I will have a lot of interesting information to find out and contact people with. And there’s always more to find out, you know. So if I did do it again, I think it’d be really interesting.

Katie Carroll: I’ll just mention another one on the point of like information and data is that it wasn’t immediately, it was actually, I don’t think I found, we found any sources that kind of got at the numbers of people that had been evacuated in Vermont over time. Like that wasn’t easy, I’m, I’m sure it’s out there, but it was not easily accessible. And so we don’t know how many people ended up in a shelter for any reason. But we do know, so I guess thinking about continuing the work in the future you know, Hannah is a very engaged multi-talented active person who does so many things and you’ve got like, so many goals and other things to do. So I guess in your very busy schedule you know, maybe room to do some outreach on getting more people to fill out the workbook and just taking that step.

And that’s becoming even more important with the way that like weather is happening today. You know, like, what is, what is gonna drive me out of my house? It’s, it’s gonna be different like later than what it is. You know, like I’m in New York, we had this like big tornado warning recently, which was totally weird. And it’s like, what is happening? And you know, people need to think about that, you know, like, okay, maybe I wasn’t thinking about going, you know, that I might end up in a shelter <laugh> before, but now maybe, maybe probably. So there’s, there’s a lot to be done.

Audrey Homan: Absolutely agree with the wackiness around extreme weather and how much it continues to appear, how many more episodes of extreme weather impact all of us. I think this is an evergreen topic that really needs more data, like you said, and more exhaustive guides for how people can deal with the eventuality when it happens rather than, than if. Katie, I wanted to ask you for a second about just turning a little bit to, can you talk about your experiences as a person with disability going into law? I’m, I’ve, I’m really curious about that.

Katie Carroll: Sure. So I am legally blind and I’m happy to be called blind. Blind or legally blind is fine with me. Since birth I have albinism and then later in life I realize that I live with anxiety and depression, so now I’m disabled, a disabled woman <laugh> for sure. So I, well, let’s see. Growing up with a disability, I was kind of like introduced to special education, having an IEP, like supports that need to be, be in place in education. And so I noticed, like I notice differences in the way that, you know, I was treated compared to other people. I got connected with the blindness community as a teenager. I’m really, I’m really so grateful for some of the, so there are some blindness advocacy organizations out there. One of them is the National Federation of the Blind.

They brought me in, and I met other blind people like, you know, which is really great. And I learned about these, one memory that really stands out for me is learning just how difficult it can be and how inaccessible voting was for people then, and I guess can still be today. And that just, you know, really stuck with me. I, I thought to myself, you know, why, how could that be <laugh>? What, why is that happening? So I was, I had this like I guess anger indignation that I carried with me and I was really interested in learning how different systems how disabled people are affected by all the systems. And I ultimately decided to go to law school. I had a mentor, also a woman with a disability who used her law degree to advise nonprofit organizations in other countries on disability inclusion.

I thought, Wow, that’s, that’s amazing. I wanna do that. And I ended up going to law school and you know, did the bar exam and all those things. Which is, and going through that process is like fraught with barriers for disabled people still. It’s, it’s been a little while since I graduated, but I know that barriers still exist and it’s been, I started off in international human rights, did some national-level advocacy and advising organizations moved into the Independent Living network in New York. Now I’m in aging. And it’s been, it’s been a pleasure to be able to see how the law has impacted people, where it falls short, what we can change.

And especially now working in, at the intersection of aging and disability, it’s great to think about how we can support people who are both aging with a disability, but also aging into disability and acquiring disability, disability later in life. And a big part of that is getting people to feel comfortable identifying as a disabled person and, you know, maybe not feeling pride today in that fact that, you know, you know, adopting that identity for themselves. So I think I answered your question, <laugh>.

Audrey Homan: One of the things you mentioned is that you had a mentor when you were younger. Is that some, is, was that through this same disempower, this same disability empowerment network?

Katie Carroll: Actually, no. That was just one of those things that happens. I attended a conference because I was interested in the law, actually, I believe it was the Timbrook disability law symposium that takes place in Baltimore. And I wasn’t, I was completing my undergraduate degree, went met a disabled woman lawyer who said, Hey, come, come intern or work for me. And I was like, Yes, <laugh>, please <laugh>. And that well maybe I’ll email her after this and just say thank you again. But having that was incredibly important for my growth.

Audrey Homan: Now, one of the things that folks who are just listening to this episode might not realize is that, at least to me, the two of you seem to be very different in ages. I think Katie, you’re a little bit older than, than Hannah is, so Hannah, you are, you’re in your early twenties maybe. I’m really bad at guessing.

Hannah Galvan: I am. I’m about to turn 17 in September, actually.

Audrey Homan: So close. Okay. So knowing that has your mentor, has your mentorship relationship with Katie changed how you approach thinking about your future?

Hannah Galvan: Yeah, it’s interesting that you say that because like for a lot of my life we talk in the disability community, we talk about independence, independence, independence. And in Empower Camp we also talk about a lot about that. And while it’s really great to have the sense that I can do a ton of things on my own and that I am capable, it’s also like this mentorship has made me like value, really value like getting support from people and how it can be really beneficial to you. I know that when I’m older I’m gonna, you know, go to college and have to have help there. And then when I graduate and live somewhere, I’m gonna have to hire PCAs. And that’s just like a reality that I’m gonna have. And I think this has really helped me understand the balance, at least for me, of like being independent but also recognizing that there’s a lot of awesome people out there who can help you and guide you like Katie has done for me. So yeah, I really appreciate the question cuz it was something I was thinking about

Katie Carroll: And I <laugh>, I mean, I strive to be as you know, outwardly as comfortable in my skin as Hannah is. And I appreciate seeing that and that’s why I said I mean, I feel like I’m being mentored. Like I feel like I’m growing just by seeing how Hannah interacts with the world and how you you know, you carry yourself differently. You know, I guess we all, we all come to terms with like disability in our own ways and you know, I’m sure a lot of people struggle with like internalized ableism and, you know, a lot of things have changed, a lot of things have not changed. And so I guess I can say the same for me, like my, I forget the wording of the question, but I feel like yeah, like my future is also shaped by working with Hannah.

Hannah Galvan: I appreciate that it’s been, it’s been really nice to have a friendship and a partnership and like someone who has helped me with this awesome project, but also like someone to be like, Hey, I’m freaking out. Like, do you relate <laugh>. So yeah, it’s been really awesome

Katie Carroll: For sure. And you asked about age. I was born two years before the ADA was signed, so I guess we’re both technically in the ADA generation. It’s a little weird to me to think that I existed before the law was in place. But you know, still, I guess things were being figured out then. And I will say, I guess part of Hannah, your like your outward your persona, you also I don’t wanna <laugh>, I wanna mention that you, you know, you’re very involved in theater and you love theater and you love performance and I’m sure that’s, that’s a big part of why I get so much out of my relationship with you.

Hannah Galvan: Yeah, I am a theatre person at heart 24/7. And I actually would really love to do in my future like advocacy work surrounding theater and people with disabilities because the film and media industry is getting there with the disability representation, but the theater industry, like, especially like Broadway needs a little bit more of a nudge. So I would really, that’s my dream is to help other people with disabilities realize that they can and deserve to be on big stages and tell authentic stories and stuff like that. So I would really love to do that.

Audrey Homan: I would love to follow up on with a question about your experiences with the theater and disability. Hannah, where are you seeing that things need to change in theater productions and the theater community? Like what, where, where are some places that really need a push in terms of disability advocacy with the theater?

Hannah Galvan: Yeah. I think this is really broad, but I’ll get, I’ll get more narrow, don’t worry. Just people’s mindset in general. I think for Broadway is, Broadway is big. Like Broadway is all about like super big numbers and really emotional songs that like made you cry. I’ve been to, I’ve lucky, I’ve been lucky enough to go to Broadway shows and I always like watch out theater being like, Whoa and I can’t stop talking about it for like two days after because it’s such an emotional and raw and beautiful experience. And, but a lot of the things about the shows are big and they choreography in general, like a lot of the choreography is not like super adaptive and inclusive. And so I would love to like talk to people who work in that space and be like, Hey here’s how you can make your dances adaptive for everybody and everybody can be doing the same thing because because if one person just does it, like it’s not gonna, like, it’s not gonna make a difference.

But if people see everybody doing the same dance moves and everybody participating in the fullest extent of who, what they’re doing like that, that’ll make a really big impact. I also think like casting there’s a show called Wicked it’s basically the prequel to Wizard of Oz. So it’s about the friendship between the Good Witch and the Wicked Witch of the west. And the Wicked Witch, her name is up about her sister and is in a wheelchair in the show. And she’s never been played by an actress or actor with a disability. Which, you know, makes for an inauthentic experience and I have a very real love-hate relationship with that show because the music is so good and the story is really good, but that’s the only part that I have a problem with.

 So just encouraging people that disabled people are out there and we wanna be hired and there are performers and like also just casting people with disabilities in disabled roles, but also just in roles in general. Cuz we wanna be there. And also like making your stories more inclusive. Like people, people wanna be able to tell a story that feels true to them and not have it be like, Oh my gosh, this character has a disability and that’s their whole entire character up and that’s what they’ll sing about for like 90 minutes while they’re on stage. But like rather has just them as a human being going through the world would be all as we all do. And yeah, I think there’s, so like, I don’t know if you know Ally Stroker, she’s a woman with a disability and she’s actually the first person in the wheelchair to win a Tony Award which is one of the really big awards in theater.

And that was a huge deal for me. Like when I saw that YouTube video, I was like, Oh my gosh, like if she did it then so many other people can do it. And she won that award for playing a character in Oklahoma who isn’t disabled in the, in the show. So the fact that she won and won for playing a character who’s like their, who their character, like it’s not about them being disabled and she was just the perfect one for the role and like, that’s why she won. Like, that was such a huge turning point for me. And I hope to inspire like the next generation of people in theater too. Just think a little more inclusively. And there’s so many cool shows happening on Broadway right now and I think we just, we can get there. So yeah, I’m really excited to do that work someday.

Audrey Homan: So returning one last time to this this idea of the, the the mentorship experience. Can I ask, what’s been the most surprising thing that the two of you have learned from being in the mentorship relationship?

Hannah Galvan: Come on, let’s start Katie.

Katie Carroll: Maybe it was not surprising to me, but it might be surprising to other people is that when we talk about the camp experience, I’m sure there are people out there that might assume that the people working at camp are non-disabled folks, but that is not the case. <Laugh> or mentors, the people that go to camp where women and girls and I’m non-binary, people with disabilities and we are in, we’re in these mentor mentee relationships, we provide support and attendant services to each other and you know, maybe people don’t realize that that happens a lot more than they might guess and it’s a lovely thing.

Hannah Galvan: Yeah, I would definitely agree with that. It’s really nice to like have people help with your attendance staff and your personal care needs and stuff because sometimes it can be awkward like when you as a disabled person are asking for help and you know, I have a lot of great able body friends who are so cool about it and I’m very lucky. But it’s, it was nice to be in a space where like people could relate to that and you’re able to provide those for each other. And so it like the, the sort of natural awkwardness you sometimes feel is kind of not there, which is really nice. I think, I don’t know, surprising I was just really like surprised that I like accomplished what I did in a year because when you’re starting a thing and they’re like, Oh, you’re doing this for a, you’re, you’re first instinct is like, Oh my gosh, that’s such a long amount of time.

I’ll be like, I’m great. And then it’s like, May and you’re like, what? But I feel like with cuz like the scope of the like base for the product is so large and I feel like at first I was really, really intimidated by like trying to find something that I really cared about and narrowing it down enough so that I could actually make change. And I feel like I really did that and it’s, it’s a small part of change, but I hope that people will, you know, open up the guide and find those pages and be like, Hey, I didn’t see this in there before. That’s really cool at this level of representation is in there now. And yeah, I just wanted to, people know that it like is gonna exist now and you can find a more of information about that within the internet, a this.

 And yeah, I was just really surprised that like, I guess it’s just hitting me like it’s not a small thing what I accomplished. Like I worked really hard on this, this particular thing and I couldn’t have done it without the support of Katie and all the other people who have helped. But I am really proud of the fact that I like actually made change because I’m an activist in all the senses of just not, not just with people, not just for people with disabilities, but like every other minority group. And I’m a firm believer that you actually go out and do something if you can. So I’m really proud that I actually got to make this concrete change that will now be like out in the world for people to see.

Audrey Homan: Thank you for that. I have just one final question for the two of you. You are both disability advocates, you create change in the world. Hannah, you mentioned, you know, you’re an activist. What’s the most important thing that you each have learned through your advocacy with and for the disability community?

Hannah Galvan: I’ll start if that’s okay. I think just like realizing that there’s not, like, it’s very easy to feel like there’s not space for you. And it’s very easy to feel like alone and that you’re, that you’re the only one ones within your experience or an experience like it. But like, the fact that it’s hard but like, you have to make space for yourself and that can be really hard cuz you have to stand up to people and be like, Hey, this is an issue I really care about. And like, did you know this? And I think making space for yourself in a world where there’s like 7 billion people is kind of intimidating cuz you’re like, you’re like, why? Like, I deserve this space, but also like, there’s again, 7 billion other people who also deserve space.

But especially for me, like, I realized that like if people see me making space for myself, like they’ll realize that they can do it too. And like, it’s so important for everybody to make space for themselves and I think that’s one of the things that I first learned and that sometimes you have to do it on your own and you’ll start and then other people will follow you. Or people will pave the way for you to make space. And it can be scary, but once you make space for yourself and like let it be known that you’re, you’re here, like, it’s, it’s very empowering feeling. So that is probably one of the biggest things that I’ve, I’ve learned and tried to put into practice during this work.

Katie Carroll: And I’ll just add for me, so there, there, I mean there are so many things that I could answer with, but one that’s on my mind lately is just the importance of hearing and seeing, seeing each other and, and hearing each other’s stories and like how we got to where we are and what your experience has been. And through, through that, you know, coming to a point where we can work together you know, when you’re part of a campaign or you’re just trying to, you know, change a system, change a law, change a policy, you know, affect the right person we, we might end up spending less time hearing from other individuals or base building, you know, reaching out to other people that haven’t had the opportunity to, to share or to, you know, advocate or anything like that. So I think that’s been on my mind.

And I think I have a question to add for Hannah. So I don’t wanna forget that, you know, a big part of this is like about your transition to independence and adulthood and so I guess I would like to hear from you like, what would your message be to parents with future Empower camp attendees? So like class of 2023, what, like, what do you want other parents to know who are thinking about, you know, their, their kid, their child well and, and guardians as well? Parents and guardians I should say. You know, who are, you know, at probably at different points in how they support their their disabled kid.

Hannah Galvan: Yeah. I think it’s really interesting because for me, with my parents they breezed me from the beginning. And they, they always said to me, I remember them always saying like, never think that you can’t do something. Like you can try something and it might not work out for you or you might not love it or it, you might not do it the same way as other people, but there’s other ways that you can do it, and will like help you do that. So I grew up very much with the mindset of like, I’m, things are open to me, like even if I don’t think that they’re possible for myself. And I’m so grateful to my parents for that because I think not all people with disabilities have that or grew up having that. I think I just remember really clearly my first day at this camp I do called Zino Mountain Farm there in Lincoln, Vermont.

And I am actually going there this summer for two weeks and I’ve been going since I was about seven years old. And it’s a community of people with and without disabilities and we are all on an equal playing field and we all just hang out and be in that space with each other and it’s like honestly a really magical space to be in. But I just remember very clearly my parents like dropping me off and because I was so young, I only stayed for the day. Like I live, I’m very lucky to live like 15 minutes away. So I would only, I would stay for the day when I first started and now I stay over in the cabins. But I remember my parents like giving the people all my stuff and being like, Okay, like don’t forget like this.

So you put on her orthotics and like, she needs to be helped with this and then this and this. And the people at Zino were like, Okay, she’s gonna be fine. Like, we’re, we’ve got her. And so my parents left and I imagine they were a little bit like okay, like we’re leaving Hannah with these like older strangers essentially, and like how is she gonna fair and is she gonna be okay? And but I feel like Empower is for me and like seeing them sort of, I don’t know if this is a corny word, but like seeing them sort of evolve made me a lot more comfortable being like after that being like them, they noticed that I was able to, I was fine. Like I had so much fun and they sort of realized that I would be okay. And like even now I’ll still be like, I’ll still stress about things and I’ll still like, oh, like I wanna talk to this person about what support I’m gonna have and that sort of thing.

But I think for my parents like it’s made me a lot more confident like telling them like, Hey, I can actually do this on my own, like, and I’ll ask you if I need help when I really appreciate it, but I can also, but I’m also gonna try to do this on my own. And I think that’s kind of hard when you’re a kid and especially if your parents, like you’re a child of like parents who are able bodied and just like want the best for you. And when you were young, like they heard that you had a disability and they, you know, you never wanna see your child struggle. And I think it’s hard for them at first to like know that I would move around the world differently and it wouldn’t always be easy, but I think me being able to get to a place where I could tell them like, Hey, I know this is scary for me and it’s probably scary for you, but like I can do it.

Like, and if I’m not fine, like I’ll call you. Like, like I recently went to a leadership conference and I was really nervous about it cause I was the only person there with a disability and I was like, Oh my gosh, like, who’s gonna help me? Like, is this gonna be okay? And we were on a college campus and that was really wild and really cool and I ended up having such a good time and my parents were like, I know you’ll be great and if you’re not, like, call us. And I texted my mom every day and I was like, I’m doing great, I’m having a great time. So anyway, really long-winded answer, but I would just say like, it’s really hard to give your kid like independence and it’s really hard to like imagine them away from you and like, are they gonna be okay?

But I think it’s so empowering for like your kid to know that their parents support them or their guardians support them in what they do. And they, they understand that you’re gonna be an independent human one day and they’re helping you along on that journey and they trust you to be okay with other people and like letting them know that you think that they’re capable is such a big thing. So yeah, I would just say like trust that you know what’s best for each other and trust that like people are gonna do what they want to do and they wouldn’t do it if they felt like they were gonna be like unsafe or anything. But like empowering your kid, especially a kid with a disability is so important. So

Katie Carroll: You inspired me to modify my answer to the last question. Hearing you talk about seeing your, your parents change and you change and things like that and on, so being an advocate or an advocate, activist or really any, you know, anything, whatever you’re doing, it’s important to have goals and that’s something that I’ve learned in advocacy, having really clear goals and then an assessment process to see where you are in reaching those goals. Hannah, well actually both of us, we had to do assessments before and after camp. We’ve had to, you know, justify like <laugh> the process, you know, where, where like how far we’ve come and why and what are the challenges and it’s important to do that and like in all areas of life. And it’s okay if we end up not liking something or it doesn’t work out, but at least you can see, you know, that you tried something, you know why it happened the way that it happened. And so that’s my answer and I’m sticking to it.

Hannah Galvan: Yeah, I would also, if it’s okay, I’m gonna like add something to that. Like and if, like, if you have a goal and you’re like working toward it, but you’re realizing like you’re not, you’re like, you gave yourself a specific amount of time and you’re like at that amount of time and you realize you haven’t completed it all the way or whatever, like, that’s okay because you were working toward it and like you can just, you can modify it, you can do something else entirely. Like life isn’t supposed to be all figured out all the time. So like, it’s good to have, of course it’s good to have clear goals and like I’ve had a really specific theme of like what I wanna do for a while now, but like, I don’t know, like who knows? Like, I don’t know where I’ll be for college. Like I don’t know where I’ll be in the world in like four years, like, I don’t know. So it’s, you also don’t have to have all your stuff together all the time.

Audrey Homan: You don’t have to have all your stuff together all the time is a fabulous motto to live by and something I’m definitely going to take away from this conversation, which I have enjoyed so very much. Katie Carroll and Hannah Galvin, thank you so much for coming on our podcast and talking about so many different topics and experiences. This has been phenomenal and I wish you both the best of luck with your upcoming endeavors.

Hannah Galvan: Thank you for having me.

Katie Carroll: Thank you.


Green Mountain Disability Stories is the monthly podcast of the UVM Center on Disability and Community Inclusion (CDCI). Each episode features a conversation on some aspect of disability, by and with people with disabilities and their families and advocates. The views of guests on the podcast do not necessarily reflect those of the CDCI.

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