The Bionic Project: Disability, Inclusion, and Access

We had an amazing day with Nico Calabria, Jovan Booker, and Dana Ross Rogers ‘91,  from the Bionic Project yesterday! Passionate advocates for disability justice and adaptive sports and incredible athletes themselves, Nico and Jovan are both on the American Amputee Soccer Team and have played in multiple Amputee Soccer World Cups on the International stage. Dana Ross Rogers, an MTS alumna, is Executive Director of the Bionic Project, and has spent her career in education, inclusive environments, and supporting adaptive athletes beginning with working as an Adaptive Ski Instructor in Telluride in her 20’s. The three spent the entire day at the school in both the classroom and out on the field working with students to raise awareness about disability, inclusion and accessibility, and we wanted to share highlights from the day.

The morning started with two gathers, one for middle school and one for lower school students. During the middle school gather, Nico shared a video of a commercial Powerade made telling Nico’s story, in order to kick-start the conversation about life with a disability. Jovan spoke about his experience and some of the similarities and differences they share as amputees – Jovan wears a prosthetic leg and Nico uses crutches. In lower school, Dana read a book called What Happened to You? about a young boy’s experience with a disability and how kids treat him on the playground. Both sessions focused on building empathy, dismantling disability bias, and understanding the importance of connecting with someone first before asking personal questions about their disability. 

Nico and Jovan partnered with our PE department to lead students in all grades in adaptive soccer games on the field. Students practiced using crutches, learned the rules of adaptive soccer, and then scrimmaged on the field. The three advocates also met with students in the classroom for smaller discussions about disability, inclusion, and access, and to answer student questions. In addition, Scott Summit, parent of MTS 6th grader Dash, presented to the 5th grade about the custom prosthetics that his company has made for people with disabilities using 3D industrial design tools. 

The charisma and enthusiasm of Nico and Jovan were infectious. Students are already asking if we are bringing them back next year! We are so appreciative of the work that the Bionic Project is doing, and encourage MTS families to participate in the 2nd Annual Bionic Race at Crissy Field on October 29th.

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