Senior Ethan McBride sees a future in equality


Ethan McBride

McBride looks forward to graduation and new opportunities going forwards. He surmises a future simply of “security and a chance for success,” but his leadership abilities show a clear path to success and much more.

LANSDALE — The E-pod elevator has been out of order for over a month. To most who traverse our halls, they think nothing of that tiny change on their walk between classes. What is impossible to ignore, though, is the sweeping impact it has on the lives of students like senior Ethan McBride.

“That’s one of the things that gets not-so-much acknowledgement from the school, but is a major inconvenience to my day. I have class in second floor E-pod, and because of it I have to leave my class nearly ten minutes early every day to go out to the K-pod elevator just to go all the way back,” McBride explained.

McBride was born with osteogenesis imperfecta, otherwise dubbed “brittle bones disorder” because of the way it impacts collagen production and bone strength. The impact of his disability relegates him to a wheelchair.

An issue like an elevator being unavailable is extremely pertinent to his school life, where he sees it as a problem of visibility.

“The small things like [the elevator] show that people care or not. People don’t realize that me and others in my community experience these kinds of problems very often.”

He continued to paint a picture of one event in particular that forced him into the realization that the same inequity reaches further than the school grounds.

“I went to a concert for an artist I don’t associate with anymore, and it was with a bunch of friends… The venue promised a raised platform for me to be able to see clearly,” McBride said.

The 'raised platform' offered by Rex Orange County's "Who Cares?" venue does not reflect equal access and mindfulness to differently-abled individuals who may otherwise be at a height disadvantage.
The ‘raised platform’ offered by Rex Orange County’s “Who Cares?” venue does not reflect equal access and mindfulness to differently-abled individuals who may otherwise be at a height disadvantage. (Ethan McBride)

He held his hand to his side, gesturing to the amount of space between the floor and his hips.

“The reality of that promise was it being only six inches off the ground. If you factor in me being only four feet tall, I was leaning around people’s sides to even try to see the stage,” McBride continued.

After contacting the venue to no avail, McBride surmised that he was ought to do something himself.

“I knew from early on that there was something I needed to do to feel proactive. There needs to be change for me to feel like I’m doing something for [my disability]… Sometime after that experience, I think there was a better idea of what I wanted to be.”

Looking into a future career, McBride was fascinated with the idea of becoming a lawyer for accessibility advocacy.

“I could see myself getting there, no question. More than that, I could see myself fighting for things like [my experiences] and getting justice for differently-abled people… For now I’m worried about doing the best I can in school and going to the right college.”

As of his senior year, McBride has immersed himself in being an ADAPT web leader and a member of the SGA senate to contribute to a variety of school functions. He explained that these positions are a foundation to gain exposure and understand what goes into making change happen.

“I like being in leadership positions in general. Feeling that I can make positive differences in any way I can is something I would like in many parts of my life. In SGA we make a lot of school decisions, and I feel like my voice matters as a part of it,” McBride stated.

While he takes on an illustrious portfolio of activities within our halls, the problem of filling in the gaps for North Penn’s differently-abled community still looms over his head. Although he’s still a long way from the floor of a court, and yet to be off on his adventure to college, perhaps starting at an elevator is the beginning of something far greater for McBride’s pursuit of equality.