First Advisor

Stephanie Bryson

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) in Social Work and University Honors


Social Work




Inclusive education, Youth -- Services for, Intersectionality (Sociology), Social justice




In this autoethnographic thesis, I analyze my observations as the co-coordinator of an inclusive youth advocacy program (YAP) to detail what made inclusion successful, and what was ineffective. I had the unique position of facilitating conversations and workshops around social justice issues and how to advocate using self-expression and art. In this thesis, I will reflect on the Inclusive Education Conference (IEC) in Spring of 2019, and the Summer Summit in the summer of 2019, both in Portland, Oregon. At the IEC some of the observations noted as harmful to inclusion included: people wanting to silence the youth, inclusion being coerced, neurotypical youth segregating due to lack of support, youth creating a hierarchy based on disabilities, and inability to support youth due to lack of knowledge. The biggest takeaway was the importance of intersectionality. The observations around detrimental practices led to changes for the summer summit. Changes included: having more understanding of workshop, interview the youth to determine their motivation for being involved and their goals, schedule breaks to encourage socialization outside the workshops which led to more inclusive workshops, and being transparent with the youth so they felt comfortable to express themselves and make mistakes. Ultimately, the most damaging elements to the inclusive youth program were 1) When neurotypical youth are neglected due to the focus on inclusion. 2) when the outside world is still modeling ableist behavior. 3) when inclusion isn’t a choice. The key finds that made inclusion most successful for this program were 1) the focus on intersectionality. And 2) being transparent and open with the youth. I also strongly encourage inclusive youth programs to not be rooted in disability as it already offsets the power dynamic of the group: rather have the group focus on a common interest.


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