Mr. Mickey Rowe, award-winning actor, activist, author, and father will kick off the tenth year of the Peer Power Partner mentoring program in Austin schools. Peer Power Partners pairs youth with disabilities and learning differences with same-aged typically developing peers to promote friendships, understanding, academic collaboration and social interaction during the school day and beyond. This supports bullying prevention and social inclusion by engaging, educating, and empowering students to become advocates for themselves and others. The group’s motto is “We’re better together!”

Rowe’s message, “Whether disabled or not, the things that make you different, or that you might even perceive as your weaknesses, actually make you unique and valuable and might even be your biggest strengths.” In his keynote, Rowe will share his deeply personal story from special education, to stilt walking, busking on the street as an autistic and legally blind single dad with full custody of his autistic child, all the way to hatching a plan to get to Broadway’s biggest stage. The talk is based on his new memoir: Fearlessly Different: An Autistic Actor’s Journey to Broadway’s Biggest Stage.

Rowe will spend Monday and Tuesday, October 17 and 18th speaking to all students in grades 5-12 in Austin. As a disabled stage actor Mickey knows that often people want so badly to fit in that they forget what makes them stand out. His keynote emphasizes best practices on disability inclusion and making sure that everyone we come in contact with feels seen, heard, understood and valued.

Rowe was the first autistic actor to play Christopher Boone, the lead role in the Tony Award winning play The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. He has also appeared as the title role in the Tony Award-winning play Amadeus and more. Mickey was the founding Artistic Director of the National Disability Theatre. He is 34 years old and lives in Seattle with his wife Helen and their blended family.

The Hormel Historic Home will host a FREE community presentation Monday, October 17th from 6:30-7:30 pm open to parents, teachers, arts enthusiasts, and anyone else interested in hearing his story. Autographed books will be available for sale from 7:30-8:00 pm. This evening event is co-sponsored by Summerset Theatre, Matchbox Children’s Theatre, Austin High School drama club and Autism Friendly Austin. Please register online for this FREE event at www.hormelhistorichome.org

For additional event information contact: Mary Barinka (Community Autism Resource Specialist) [email protected] or 507-433-4243

Peer Power Partners is a collaboration between Austin Schools, Vision 2020, and the Parenting Resource Center and is funded by the Hormel Foundation, Austin Area Foundation and private donations.

By Mary Barinka, Community Autism Resource Specialist at the Hormel Historic Home, September 22, 2022

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