We give people with disabilities a voice and platform.
I Am You: Stories of Resilience, Courage, and Power
Bryson shares his struggle with depression as a transgender man. Jessica tells how she deals with violence by being kind and having pity for her bully. Jeff explains how he stood up for himself and fought back against a bully. Jacob reveals his struggles with self-mutilation after a lifetime of bullying. These are just a few stories of resilience, courage and power that are shared by people with developmental disabilities. Step into their lives and see how they had to stand up and fight back to gain independence and live their dreams.
Stone Belt began in 1959, making it the oldest and largest agency of its kind in south-central Indiana, offering educational, residential, employment support, and clinical and health services for more than 1,600 clients in Monroe, Lawrence, Bartholomew and surrounding counties. Stone Belt’s mission, in partnership with the community, is to prepare, empower and support people with developmental disabilities and their families to participate fully in the life of the community.
To give a voice to the voiceless, Stone Belt launched its first “I Am You” stage production in 2008. This concept grew from recreational therapy student Michelle Davenport’s desire to document and preserve the stories of people with disabilities. Along with Amy Jackson, the development director at that time, Michelle believed the stories of inspiration, courage, and resilience could be brought to stage as a powerful testament to the performers’ courage and strength. Using the Bloomington Playwrights Project’s professional stage created a high-quality production value and gave audience members an intimate way to experience the lives of people with disabilities.
The production has had seven directors throughout the years and has used various formats—monologues, interviews, vignettes, songs, and skits, but always stayed true to the concept of supporting people to tell their personal stories and let the audience see them for their struggles, gifts, and talents. The productions exemplify the universal truth and Stone Belt core belief that all people have dignity, worth, and the right to self-determination.
In 2018, as people prepared their presentations, a common theme surfaced—bullying. Each of the performers agreed to have their stories compiled into this book. They include Jacob Johns, Jeff Stillions, Bryson Wrightsman, Marylin Chitwood, Anna Harner, Julia Adams, Jessica Walker, Tommy Cunningham, Nick Parsley, Thomas Phillips, Amber Teulker and Carla Mann.