Portrait of the Whole Person: Paintings & Biographies

Bertschi School, in partnership with Disability Rights Washington, presents PORTRAIT OF THE WHOLE PERSON to celebrate disability history and culture. Through the art show, we hope to heighten awareness of the disability rights movement and culture with the broader community.

Portrait of Abraham Lincoln
Abraham Lincoln

Disability Rights Washington, a private non-profit organization protecting the rights of people with disabilities in Washington State, developed the concept and curriculum, taught disability history and culture to the students, and facilitated the art. Bertschi Fourth Grade teachers, Peter and Randy, guided the students in researching and creating biographies about individuals with disabilities, both historic and current. Maria Grade, the Bertschi School art teacher, instructed each child on portraiture and facilitated the presentation of the show.

The Portrait of the Whole Person project provides an integrated approach to teaching youth to: perceive disability as a reflection of societal views of differences; treat people with disabilities with respect and dignity; and understand how disability rights fit into the broader civil rights movement. Additionally, this project contains an anti-bullying and self-confidence component.

Washington recognizes the importance of educating youth about disability history through its enactment of a state law establishing October as Disability History Awareness Month. This Act requires each public school to conduct or promote educational activities that provide instruction, awareness, and understanding of disability history and people with disabilities. By educating youth, we can ameliorate negative stereotypes and perceptions that can easily lead to exclusion, bullying, low-self esteem, and discrimination. Perceptions of disability should include concepts of dignity, liberty, autonomy, and strength instead of fear, pity, weakness and paternalism or maternalism.

For more information about this project, please contact Disability Rights Washington at 206-324-1521 ext. 206.

The biographies in the Art Show are presented as written by the students.  They have not been edited for accuracy or consistency with principles taught in the curriculum.

Bertschi School is an independent elementary school committed to providing children a balanced education that nurtures their intellect, imagination and character. Bertschi School’s mission is to educate children to become compassionate, confident, and creative learners in a global community. 

Disability Rights Washington (DRW) mission is to advance the dignity, equality, and self-determination of people with disabilities.   DRW  works to pursue justice on matters related to human and legal rights.