Our First EmpowHER Camp Graduates

Last year, I wrote about our inaugural Class of EmpowHer Camp. EmpowHer Camp is a multi-stage skill-building, empowerment, and mentoring program that brings a diverse group of girls with disabilities (ages 13 -18) to camp with successful disabled women mentors in the Adirondacks for one week. They learn about disaster preparedness and basic survival skills, while also developing independent living and leadership skills. The next summer, the girls reunite in Washington, D.C., to explore how they have grown as leaders. During the year between the first trip and the reunion trip, the girls will create a yearlong local project involving inclusive disaster strategies.

In the Beginning

Well, it’s been a whole year since our first class of young leaders started the program and I cannot believe it, but last week they all graduated from EmpowHer Camp! In August 2021, we had nine young women with disabilities join us from across the country and they began their journey by camping in the Adirondacks. They did not know each other and they did not know the nine disabled women mentors that they were camping with either. Over that one week, we all grew together, but it did not end there. 

Community Projects

After the week was over, each young leader selected one disabled woman to serve as her mentor for the year. Each girl created a community project and her mentor helped her throughout the year to accomplish her project. All the projects were incredible! For example, one girl worked with a local domestic violence organization to help their shelter become more accessible and another girl created an emergency resource guide for the Disability Community in rural Montana! 

Reuniting in Washington D.C.

After a year of hard work, we all reunited in Washington, D.C., where the young leaders presented their projects, spoke with members of Congress about the importance of having disabled women leading in the community. Of course, had tons of fun too! I am so impressed by all that these young women have accomplished and how much of an impact they have had in their communities already.

Before they went home, each of them set goals for the next 1, 3, 5, and 10 years. Their goals ranged from educational, to work, to travel, and more. I cannot wait to see all the things that they accomplish!  I know that each of them truly will change the world! 

About Stephanie Woodward: Stephanie is a brand ambassador advisor for Quantum Rehab® and works as a disability rights activist. She has received many awards for helping communities become more accessible, as well as for her actions in fighting for the rights of disabled individuals as it relates to Medicaid and other support services. Click here to learn more about Stephanie.


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