This profile was prepared when Alito Alessi was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2009.
The New Idea
Alito is establishing new ways for disabled and non-disabled people to become more cohesively integrated in society. Through DanceAbility, he facilitates positive, visible and inclusive interactions between people with and without disabilities. After attending workshops, follow-up meetings, and career counseling sessions, participants come to realize that their body and disabilities are not limitations, and they gain a new sense of awareness and self-confidence. Dance workshops and public performances cultivate public awareness that meaningful interaction and integration are possible and can happen in daily life. These interactions shatter stereotypes associated with people with disabilities, change worldviews, and break the barriers that keep people with physical and mental disabilities isolated from the rest of society. Through a collaborative training environment, mixed-ability groups develop and learn a language which is universal and used as an effective tool for integration. DanceAbility allows individuals to transform their perceptions of themselves, thus creating an opening to foster mixed-ability relationships and build inclusive communities. The transformative experience allows participants and audience members to overcome their prejudices and assumptions about each other, thus giving them an opportunity to become agents of change within their broader communities.