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Club plans events for disability month

Alicia Smith | Friday, March 20, 2009

As March is Disabilities Awareness Month, Perspectives, a Notre Dame campus club that encourages disability awareness, will be hosting several discussions about disabilities on campus.

“For Disabilities Awareness Month, Perspectives will host a panel discussion about learning and physical disabilities at St. Augustine Parish on Sunday,” Mel Tardy, faculty advisor for Perspectives, said.

“[On] Notre Dame’s campus, Perspectives will also host a student panel discussion on learning disabilities this coming Monday.”

Tardy said Perspectives began in 2005 when a group of students met after a panel discussion during Disabilities Awareness Month.

“First, they quickly realized that they shared a lot in common and appreciated having each other with which to share common concerns,” she said.

“Second, while over 200 students use the resources of the Office for Students with Disabilities, there were no natural opportunities for them to actually meet others with disabilities to fellowship or to share insights and concerns,” Tardy said. “Finally, from their discussions, they realized that more campus awareness of disability issues was necessary.”

The students decided to take action, she said.

“They hoped that forming a student club would help address these issues and improve Notre Dame and adjacent campuses for current and future students with disabilities,” Tardy said.

This is the second year Perspectives has been an official club at the University.

Sophomore Kalen Wilczek, president of Perspectives, said the club’s intent “is to provide awareness and discussion to different forms of disabilities on the Notre Dame campus.

“We want to open up lines of discussion on disabilities. We want to provide an outlet to broaden people’s perspectives on disabilities,” she said.

Club member Matt Swinton, a freshman, agreed.

“Perspectives’ goal is to promote awareness and understanding of disabilities, both physical and learning, in the Notre Dame community,” he said. “We want the community to understand that everyone has something to offer here at Notre Dame, no matter what that person’s situation is.”

The club meets every Monday and always welcomes new members, Wilczek said.

“This club is open to all. If you have a disability, want to provide support for someone who does have a disability, want to learn more about different forms of disabilities or just want to have a fun time hanging out with cool people, then this is the club for you,” she said.

Swinton agreed.

“I would encourage students without disabilities to take part,” he said. “Part of the college experience is to broaden one’s horizons, and I cannot think of a better way to do that than to take part in Perspectives.”