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SDB hosts week to increase disability awareness

Bridget Feeney | Monday, February 4, 2013

In an effort to increase knowledge about mental and learning disabilities, the Student Diversity Board (SDB) is hosting a week dedicated to raising awareness around the Saint Mary’s campus among students, faculty and staff.

Disabilities Awareness Week, which continues today and ends Friday, is an annual event SDB organizes in order to encourage students to educate themselves about disabilities.

Senior Maggie Galvin, SDB president, said the week is especially important to highlight students at Saint Mary’s who experience different types of disabilities.

“Student Diversity Board hosts Disabilities Awareness Week to shed light on the various disabilities on Saint Mary’s campus,” she said. “So many girls are living with unseen disabilities and struggling with them every day – from learning disabilities to mental disabilities.”

According to Galvin, another goal of the week is to prevent the formation of stereotypes and judgments. She said people need to understand that having a disability is something people of all types and backgrounds experience.

“Student Diversity Board would like to show that disabilities, whether they can be seen or not, should not be ignored and more prevalent than one may think,” she said. “We started to fulfill this goal last year with our posters of celebrities and their disabilities, which will continue with this year’s week.”

Rhonda Tomenko, a communicative disorders professor at the College, will conduct hearing screenings today from 12:30 to 2 p.m. in the Student Center atrium as part of Disabilities Awareness Week. 

“Hearing screens are administered to children because of school rules, but as we age we do not receive them anymore unless one notices a problem with their hearing,” Galvin said. “With how loudly we listen to our music in our ear buds, it is very important to know if you have any sort of hearing loss.”

On Wednesday, SDB will show a movie from 8 to 10 p.m. in Vander Vennet Theater in the basement of the Student Center. Galvin said the movie choice has not been determined yet but will either be “Aphasia” or “Tru Confessions.”

“‘Tru Confessions’ is a Disney Channel movie about a girl who makes a documentary about her brother who has a developmental disability that causes him to act like a child,” Galvin said. “‘Aphasia’ is a documentary about one father’s struggle to relearn how to speak after he has a stroke.”

On Thursday, the board will hang posters around campus that showcase different celebrities with learning and mood disabilities.

“I love walking around campus and seeing girls reading the posters of celebrities and saying ‘Oh! Steve Jobs was dyslexic?'” she said. “It really sinks in that anyone can be living with a disability and you would never know.”

Galvin said Disabilities Awareness Week is an important asset to the Saint Mary’s community and students have a lot to learn.

“Students should attend the events for Disabilities Awareness Week because they are engaging as well as educational.”

Contact Bridget Feeney at bfeene01@saintmarys.edu