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We Move Together wins 2022 Harriet McBryde Johnson Award!

We are incredibly honoured to receive the 2022 Harriet McBryde Johnson Award for Nonfiction from the Autistic Self Advocacy Network!

Almost five years ago, as we sat and talked in a sunny park in Toronto, we came up with a plan to create the children’s book we needed but couldn’t find. As parents of young kids, we were frustrated: so many of the kids’ books that we came across depicted disability as a tragic and isolating personal condition; something to be at best overcome or at least to be assimilated into the presumed goodness of nondisabled culture. 

As disabled people and community members, we came into disability political consciousness by way of a vast constellation of cultural, activist and academic spaces: we were nurtured, for example, by disability studies scholarship and inspired by disabled/crip artists; we found solidarity and comradery fighting for disability justice, organizing and attending cultural events, demos, marches and pride celebrations where we would walk, roll, limp, chant, sign, stim and push our way through our winding city streets towards a better, more accessible future. We were and are sustained by our mixed-ability, intergenerational, cross-movement communities; mad, d/Deaf, sick, neurodiverse and crip collectives that continue to give us place and home.

Autistic disability justice advocate, Lydia X.Z. Brown has  generously described We Move Together as, “a love letter to the next generation of disabled kids.” If our book succeeds at offering alternative depictions of disability for young people, it’s our hope that it’s also a tribute to the people, places and communities that gave it shape. As we were writing and illustrating the book, we spoke a lot about citations as a practice of care.  As academics, we’reused to this idea that we can pay our respect to those that have taught us by using footnotes, quotations and textual citations. In the context of a children’s picture book, though, this seemed less straightforward. In the end, we decided to fill the book with meaningful images and include an informational glossary that points to the people, places and relationships that have shaped us and animated our work. 

We Move Together is about sharing some of the gifts we have received by being lucky enough to be a part of disability culture and community. Our communities have taught us that disability is so much more than something that lives in individual bodies or minds, so much more than a medical condition to be cured or overcome. Disability, as we’ve come to know it, represents a radical way of being in the world, an acknowledgement of our essential interdependencies, a commitment to radical forms of care and access, a wildly creative offering of wisdom and practice, and a powerful source of kinship and community. 

There are so many more stories yet to tell children about these multiple meanings of disability. We Move Together is one such story, born out of many disabled communities and seeking to honor these communities in turn. We are so thrilled and honoured to receive the Harriet McBryde Johnson Award for Nonfiction, thank you!