"In doing our work on behalf of the people with whom we ally ourselves, we create spaces in which being awkward is not a barrier to being powerful."

— Mayer Shevin

Honoring Mayer Shevin

The idea for what has become the Citizen-Centered Leadership Community of Practice began percolating sometime around 1987 when Mayer Shevin’s poem “The Language of Us and Them” showed up. This timeless piece boldly and unashamedly challenged the status quo of people living with a disability by highlighting the artificial yet persistent line that has been drawn between people who live with labels and those who do not.

Mayer was a psycholinguist whose passion for communication insisted that listening is a whole body discipline, especially with people who are not able to effectively use words to communicate. Mayer devoted his life to bridging relationships of understanding between people through his teaching of non-traditional methods for facilitating communication and non-violent behavioral support.

An intuitive master in person-driven support, Mayer helped people establish circles of support, and provided guidance to those organizations seeking to foster such circles. He dedicated his work to engaging directly with individuals to empower them in the realization of their life’s aspiration and purpose despite their challenging behaviors, along with their families, and with the schools and agencies which support these individuals.

Mayer wrote the landmark and provocative poem The Language of Us and Them, which continues to invite personal reflection and a call to worldwide action with and on behalf of individuals living with disabilities.

Application for Mayer Shevin Scholarship














Directions: Read Mayer’s poem, "The Language of Us and Them", and provide a written response to the following questions. (Maximum 250 words per response) (50 points)


The Language of Us and Them

by Mayer Shevin, 1987
used with permission

We like things.
They fixate on objects.

We try to make friends.
They display attention-seeking behaviors.

We take a break.
They display off-task behavior.

We stand up for ourselves.
They are non-compliant.

We have hobbies.
They self-stim.

We choose our friends wisely.
They display poor peer socialization.

We persevere.
They perseverate.

We love people.
They have dependencies on people.

We go for walks.
They run away.

We insist.
They tantrum.

We change our minds.
They are disoriented and have short attention spans.

We are talented.
They have splinter skills.

We are human.
They are…….?








Read the Citizen-Centered Leadership 15 week course description and provide a written response to the following questions. (Maximum 250 words per response) (50 points)