Shared Travel Experiences With a Bigger Purpose
The Wayfaring Band creates inclusive travel opportunities for people of all abilities
Although they like to rock, The Wayfaring Band isn’t a rock-and-roll or musical band. They are a band of travelers, specializing in adventure travel and immersive learning opportunities for adults with and without intellectual and developmental disabilities. As an RMHS Mill Levy Community Initiative, The Wayfaring Band emphasizes building interdependent, neurodiverse communities with the goal of fostering a genuine connection between all its members.
“Often times, neurotypical people assume that connecting with folks with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities (I/DD) is a form of either labor or charity. But in reality, being a member of a neurodiverse community is mutually beneficial to everyone,” said Andrea Moore, Co-founder and Executive Director of The Wayfaring Band.
The Wayfaring Band challenges the idea of what people often look at as charity work by helping them to instead view it as an opportunity to practice mutual aid for neurotypical people. For example, instead of participating in these programs as volunteers, The Wayfaring Band invites participants to engage in the experience as full-fledged participants, paying their own way in exchange for the opportunity to travel and co-learn alongside other adults in an inclusive environment.
The concept of mutual aid and self-determination are two of the most important principles within The Wayfaring Band’s core values.
“Mutual aid is the idea that everyone has needs that must be fulfilled, and everyone has gifts to contribute to the well-being of the group. Self-determination recognizes each person’s right to control their own life,” Andrea said.
By centering the importance of these two principles, the program disrupts the top-down charity model and makes space for neurotypical people to connect with members of the I/DD community. From there, multi-faceted connections are made and the groundwork is laid for interdependent communities of folks of all abilities.
“Neurotypical people get the chance to learn inclusive language and behaviors when they participate in our programs, which directly improves the lives of people with disabilities. People who experience I/DD have life-changing adventures and form connections with other adults from all walks of life,” Andrea said.
A typical travel experience with The Wayfaring Band lasts about one week. Each group generally consists of approximately 16 people. The groups travel to many different places and have the opportunity to learn, converse and connect through various activities.
Outside of physical travel opportunities, The Wayfaring Band has also found ways for participants to connect with each other virtually. On their website, The Wayfaring Band provides virtual activities, dance breaks, virtual travel groups and a Mini Magazine that shares information about the traveler experience.
The Wayfaring Band identifies as an antiracist and anti-ableist organization. They reject the assumption that people with intellectual and developmental disabilities are limited in their capacity to enjoy the full human experience. Instead, they are creating a world where everybody matters, differences enrich and opportunities are boundless. Everybody In!
To learn about other RMHS Mill Levy Community Initiatives, visit www.rmhumanservices.org/ml.