Our fellowship program is designed for neurotypical adults interested in learning about inclusion and accessibility. While on tour with The Wayfaring Band, leadership fellows participate in a vigorous, immersive curriculum. The curriculum is intended to unearth personal assumptions and stereotypes, create real strategies for navigating difference, and inspire personal growth.
Caregivers, students, teachers, professionals, activists, retirees, and interested community members have all joined the band on tour and experienced our culture of inclusion firsthand. What are you waiting for? Be a part of it!
Watch our video to learn more:
It is not necessary for a fellow to identify as a traditional “leader” or practice any particular style of leadership. We do ask that all fellows have the capacity to provide complete self-care and assist with the physical safety and well-being of others. Band members who experience intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) are invited to participate in the leadership curriculum, but the fellowship program itself is designed to meet the specific social and educational needs of neurotypical adults.
Our goal is that after participating in our program, leadership fellows will feel more equipped to face global social challenges with energy, courage, and hope.
Frequently asked questions
Are you a band? +
Although we like to rock, we are not a rock-and-roll or a musical band. We are a wayfaring band, which means we are a group of people who travel together.
We are inspired by the bands of foot-travelers of days gone by. People used to band together to make journeys over land, and they did this for safety, companionship, and to achieve a shared goal. Life on the road was precarious, and the success of the venture depended on everyone’s full participation. A tour with The Wayfaring Band works the same way. When we band together, we achieve unparalleled adventures.
Why do you have a fellowship program? +
The world needs people who have innovative ideas about friendship and social change. We need leaders who can see past the challenges created by our differences and who are willing to forge connections based on our similarities. Our fellowship program is intended to equip participants with the skills to create more accessible and inclusive social systems.
Over the course of a week on the road with the band, leadership fellows participate in a daily curriculum that addresses global citizenry, mutual aid, Universal Design for Learning (UDL), ableism, and more. Ableism is the system of oppression that discriminates against people with disabilities, making it harder for them to go to school, get a job, find housing, and participate in the same activities and opportunities that people without disabilities take for granted.
Creating social change takes all of us. Our fellowship program is designed with the goal of a more just, inclusive, and accessible world in mind.
What does “neurotypical” mean? +
We use the word “neurotypical” to describe individuals who do not identify as experiencing an intellectual or developmental disability (I/DD). We find this word to be more specific and useful than alternatives like "normal," since there is no "right" way to be a human.
A person with I/DD might describe themselves as "neurodivergent." A community that includes both people with and without I/DD could be described as “neurodiverse.”
Language evolves constantly, and our approach is to listen to and support whatever words people use to describe themselves whenever possible, except for when those words cause or contribute to the oppression of others.
Can a band member with a disability be a leadership fellow? +
Usually, our leadership fellows are neurotypical adults who are invigorated by self-awareness, community impact, and adventure. They are interested in making a meaningful contribution to the global community, and The Wayfaring Band provides them with practical experience navigating difference.
Because we lean on our leadership fellows to help model sound judgment, navigate public spaces, and maintain the safety of themselves and others, the program is designed for participants who have the capacity to self-advocate, provide complete self-care, and who have demonstrated an ability to understand and assess risks.
Band members who experience intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) are invited to participate in the social leadership curriculum at whatever level they desire: our aim is to make all of the material accessible to everyone in the band. If you have a question about which of our programs is the best fit for your traveler, please reach out to us.
Are leadership fellows “helpers” for people with disabilities? +
Fellows join our trips as paying clients, not as helpers or volunteers. We do not have any volunteer or “helper” positions when we travel because the helping model discourages interdependence and creates dangerous hierarchies. Helpers can get an inflated sense of their own importance and fail to address their own needs. Similarly, people who receive help become undervalued in society and may fail to realize their own capacity. The truth is that all people have special needs and all people have special gifts.
Because we value interdependence and mutual aid, we do lean on the leadership fellows to help model personal safety and to act as peers to our travelers who experience cognitive and developmental differences. Leadership fellows need to have the capacity to self-advocate and use good judgment.
Can I volunteer on a trip and come for free? +
See our response to the previous question! Because we foster a culture of mutual aid, we don’t have any volunteers or “helpers” on tour. Every traveler incurs costs like lodging, transportation, meals, and more. If neurotypical travelers attended our trips as volunteers, their expenses would get passed along to our travelers with disabilities. We believe that is an unfair and unnecessary burden. Instead, we invite all interested parties to join us on tour and pay for the services they receive, helping to right the scales of financial and social inequity. Leadership fellows are eligible for financial aid, just like any other band member.
Volunteers do help execute our annual fundraising events, so if that interests you feel free to reach out to us. We’d be happy to hear from you!
Do I need experience with the disability community in order to participate? +
It is not necessary for our leadership fellows to have any experience connecting with people who have disabilities. The only requirement is a willingness to learn and grow. We attract leadership fellows who are empathetic, patient, and open to new ideas. Come as you are!
What kind of learning environment can I expect? +
Our approach to learning is experiential and immersive. On tour, fellows explore new destinations and investigate local culture every day. In addition, they engage in a daily curriculum that parallels and complements our itinerary. The curriculum includes a variety of exercises, activities, and facilitated conversations between all the members of the band. We make every effort to create accommodations and modifications to the curriculum to make it more accessible to all of our travelers. While the content can be challenging and trigger deep and even difficult conversation at times, our approach is more conversational and collaborative than academic.
Overall, our aim is to investigate disability as an expression of difference. This allows us to apply what we learn to a number of other social situations including race, nationality, culture, age, gender, religion, and more. Our hope is to equip our fellows with the skills necessary to create a more inclusive and vibrant world, one in which every one of us can authentically belong.
Can I get professional development or academic credit for participating? +
A week-long tour with the band fulfills a minimum of 20 hours of formal professional development and over 80 hours of immersive learning. Your particular field or employer may require additional accreditations or need more information to approve the program. We are happy to work directly with employers, universities, and other agencies and institutions to provide specific information and develop a partnership. Please let us know how we can help.
How much does it cost? +
The cost of each tour or outing is based on the details of the particular adventure involved. The fee includes the cost of transportation, lodging, meals, tips, activities, and participation in the curriculum. Please review our upcoming Tours for information about pricing. Leadership fellows are eligible for financial aid, just like any other band member. Just ask, and we'll provide you with a scholarship application.
What types of payment do you accept? +
We accept checks and cash payments from our travelers. For an additional 3% fee, we can process credit card payments.
We are committed to helping our travelers come up with creative solutions to financial challenges, and we also offer scholarships for our programs. Please let us know how we can help meet your needs.
Do you offer scholarships? +
Our scholarship program is supported by the donations of individuals, businesses, and community organizations. Travelers demonstrating financial need may request a scholarship. Please contact us to discuss your situation.