#WCW: Hailey Boyan

Photo by Grace Chung

Meet Epicenter Community’s new intern, Hailey! Hailey is an undergraduate at Boston College, where she is currently studying Sociology. In addition to being a student, Hailey is an artist and disability activist. Hailey has mild cerebral palsy. From a young age, Hailey has utilized art as a vehicle to speak about her disability, educate people, and bring people together, which is why she was drawn to Epicenter Community and their mission of inclusion. Last month, Hailey was the MC for Epicenter Community’s first ever Fashion Accessibility Project.

Who has been your most influential mentor?

My most influential mentor is definitely my mother, Elise (She may be shocked to hear that. Mom, yes, I think you’re pretty cool). My mom is a total badass! She is such a beautiful, strong, independent woman. She is a champion in her communities and she is a great mother. Through her action and her life lessons, my mom has taught me about unconditional love, kindness and respect for others, determination, and so much more.

How did you get to where you are today?

Every Saturday when I was four years old, my dad and I would walk from our apartment to the bagel store only two blocks away. Ours was not a normal bagel run; instead, it was a critical part of how I learned to walk. This weekly excursion, a three-minute walk for most, was an hour-long workout for me because of my disability. Pushing my sticker-covered walker down the block, I anticipated my reward of a bagel and strawberry milk, a happy distraction from the demanding exercise.

As a child, I let my disability inhibit me from being me. It took a great deal of time before I was at peace with myself and my circumstances. I attribute much of my transformation to things like morning bagel runs and also the love and support of my family and friends. I do not know where I would be today without my incredible support network.

I have made almost unimaginable progress since those Saturday mornings bagel runs. There are no bagels or strawberry milk at end of my day, but my sense of love and support, physical accomplishment and confidence are much sweeter rewards.

There are no bagels or strawberry milk at end of my day, but my sense of love and support, physical accomplishment and confidence are much sweeter rewards.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

Art by Hailey Boyan

I’ll let you know when I know! I’m not really sure. In an ideal world, I would be traveling the world and painting all day, every day.

What about the city inspires you?

I am inspired by the social movements happening around the city and the movers and shakers who work tirelessly to bring about these movements and their social change.

Epicenter Community, for example, is a mover and shaker in Boston that inspires me. I am so honored to be part of an organization that is so dedicated to social justice and to being a voice for all people. I loved being part of Epicenter’s Fashion Accessibility Project, which started a very important conversation about disability, beauty, and disability visibility.

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