6 Disabled Youth Climate Activists You Need to Know and How to Support Them

India Howeth

|

August 26, 2020

Disability Justice is Climate Justice. These six youth activists are focusing their work on tackling the interconnectedness between disability and climate justice. We must create a sustainable world which is just and accessible for all people.

Z Frohna, Izzy Laderman, Madeline Crowley, Samantha Hurley, Eleanor Dolan and Daphne Frias are all fighting for this world. Here’s a little bit about them and how you can support their work.

1. Z Frohna

she/her

Affiliated Organizations: OneUpAction, The People’s Power Movement

Follow Z on instagram:  @zeepersthewriter

Image Description: Z wearing a white t-shirt with blue horizontal stripes.  She is holding the camera with her hand and looking straight at the camera with a straight face.

Z is a 19-year-old writer, artist, and activist, currently based in Los Angeles, on stolen Tongva Land, where she works towards climate, disability, and queer justice.

“Don’t let anyone make you feel like you’re lesser for feeling different or operating differently than others. If you see anyone judging someone based off of their brain chemistry, body, or background, stay far, far, far away from them and anyone who enables them. We need everyone in this movement, and that includes you.”

Support Z’s work by: “following it, taking the time to read it, and sharing it” here: https://linktr.ee/zmkf

2. Izzy Laderman

she/her

Affiliated Organizations: Disability Awareness Around the Climate Crisis

Follow Izzy on Instagram: @izzyroseladerman & @daaclimatecrisis

Image Description: Izzy is wearing a blue dress with pink and white flowers and leaves.  She is looking straight at the camera with a slight smile and sitting in front of some trees.

Izzy is a 17-year-old disability justice activist currently based in Duluth, Minnesota. She has Ehlers Danlos syndrome which, among other challenges, causes her chronic pain and can limit her mobility- a reason why she sometimes uses mobile aids. Izzy’s work focuses on how disability justice intersects with climate justice and sex education.

“Ensure that you are centering the voices of those most affected by the climate crisis. Don’t go into this fight to get media attention and so on if others with less privilege need to be heard. Know how to take a step back and lift up the voices of others.”

Support Izzy’s work by: “following @daaclimatecrisis on Instagram, educating yourself, attending webinars and workshops, and making sure to include and center people with disabilities and our voices. The first step is to simply think of us and include us. Add our community to the list of many others affected disproportionately by the climate crisis.”

3. Madeline Crowley

she/her

Follow Madeline on Instagram: @UrFavDisabledGal

Image description: Maddie wearing a light brown jacket. She is looking at the camera with a straight face. The words 'not getting well soon' appear above her head.

Madeline is a 21-year-old rising senior at the University of Florida studying Linguistics, Education Sciences, and Disability Studies. She is currently researching the wellness and healing of different social identity groups and interns at a disability rights organization.

“People with disabilities are often left out about conversations regarding climate change legislation, disaster preparation, and popularized climate saving trends (i.e. the plastic straw ban). Disabled people who need certain disposable products (food, medical, etc.) are often blamed and treated as undedicated to the movement. Despite this, disabled folks have a valuable intersectional approach to climate justice work that should not go unnoticed, unappreciated, or underused.”

Support Madeline’s work by: “following [her] on social media @UrFavDisabledGal on instagram. [She] posts content discussing a wide array of disability topics including identity, accessibility, current societal happenings, and more.”

4. Samantha Hurley

she/her

Affiliated Organization: Access the Polls, ZeroHour 

Follow Samantha on instagram: @itssamanthahurley

Image Description: Samantha is wearing a green jacket with a black shirt.  She is holding the camera with her hand and looking straight into the camera with a smile.

Samantha is a 17-year-old rising senior in high school who is a legally blind social justice activist. Her work in disability spaces ranges from serving as the Director of Communications of the organization “Access the Polls,” which works towards increasing disabled access to Civic Engagement, to uploading sporadically to her youtube channel. Additionally, she is part of ZeroHour’s music and songwriting teams, which use popular culture to encourage a culture shift regarding climate change/justice. 

“Please, please, please understand that work fighting for social good requires a hefty amount of due diligence to truly do our entire community justice. Don’t be discouraged, you are never too young or too old [to take climate action], just be ready to learn, welcome and absorb new experiences and perspectives”

Support Samantha’s work by:  “promising to include Disabled people in your organizing, narrative, and leadership. Keep our community included in your content intake whether that’s through Instagram or news articles, hear our voices, and consider our experiences that may seem so abstract, and remember that we are valid.”  She also specifically recommends this resource: “https://www.instagram.com/p/CDfEOLeAMk6/

5. Eleanor Dolan

she/they

Affiliated Organizations: MN Youth Climate Strike

Follow Eleanor on Instagram: @eleanor.dolan

Image Description: Eleanor is wearing a red and black plaid flannel shirt and a burgundy mask with light pink flowers on it.  She is looking straight at the camera and standing in front of a lake.

Eleanor is a 17-year-old queer disabled youth organizer focusing on change making in her community in Minnesota. They focus on the intersections of social justice and climate organizing and are currently working on mutual aid projects as well as justice issues within her school district.

“My body is already very impacted by my surroundings and I have to work to stay healthy, so as temperatures and weather get more extreme it makes it much more difficult for me. As air quality gets worse, as temperatures get more extreme, and as diseases, frozen in ice, are released, my symptoms get worse and more dangerous. Yet this fuels my passion. I may not be as “productive” as an abled organizer but I am giving it all I got and we are making change.”

Support Eleanor’s work by: “Listening to all disabled organizers. We are not the same and our disabilities are unique and we are unique in our needs so create space to listen to us without judgement. The best way to do this, uplift our voices and involve us in planning and organizing. Also, understand that small things may exhaust us or we may get sick and be out for a week, give us the space and time our bodies need.” 

6. Daphne Frias

she/her

Affiliated Organizations: Safe Bae, Box the Ballot

Follow Daphne on Instagram: @frias_daphne

Daphne Frias is a 22 year old organizer, passionate about ending the climate crisis. As a proud disabled Latina she has seen firsthand how her communities have been disproportionately impacted by the crisis. As a result, she is committed to amplifying their voices in this movement.

India Howeth

India Howeth

Social Media Intern

India joins ACE as a Social Media Intern based in Washington, D.C.  She is currently studying at American University for a B.A. in an Interdisciplinary Studies major of Communications, Legal Studies, Economics and Government with a minor in Arabic: her third language after English and Spanish.  

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