The Access & disABILITY Alliance will explore the “Unlimited Possibilities” of life when it kicks off a celebration of disABILITY Awareness Month in April.
Events planned include speakers, workshops, a movie night and a book display at the University Library.
The celebration marks the sixth year the alliance has put on the events.
“Cal Poly Pomona’s disABILITY Awareness Month is unique in that our affinity group, ACCESS and disABILITY ALLIANCE (AdA), partners with multiple areas on campus to offer a variety of events over the month,” says Catherine Schmitt Whitaker, president of AdA and executive director of student health and counseling services.
While some campuses may offer one event or dedicate a single day to disability awareness, Cal Poly Pomona’s celebration has events spread out during the month.
Kumiyama was born with arthrogryposis multiplex congenita, a congenital condition that causes joints to permanently lock in a bent or extended position. She plans to discuss how she has not let her condition keep her from pursuing her dreams, which have included several roles on television. She is most known for her role in “Aladdin: A Musical Spectacular” at Disney’s California Adventure. Kumiyama is the first performer in a wheelchair at a Disney theme park.
Workshops addressing mental-health issues that veterans and others face will be offered, as will an event titled “Pets Supporting People,” featuring Professor Aubrey Fine, an animal-therapy expert.
“Participants will increase their awareness and sensitivity to the diverse representation and different ways disabilities impact the lives of individuals,” Schmitt Whitaker says. “In addition to increasing awareness and understanding about ableism, we are looking forward to breaking down stereotypes and demystifying misconceptions about disabilities.”
The AdA was formed in 2008 with the goal of promoting awareness, sensitivity and a cultural identity of those with disabilities. The group is composed of faculty, staff and students.
The alliance hosted its first disABILITY Awareness event in 2009. This year’s celebration is a collaboration of the AdA, Associated Students, Inc., Student Health & Counseling Services, Active Minds, Ability Awareness Advocacy Club, Veterans Resource Center, Danny’s Farm, University Library, University Housing Services and Tri-City Mental Health.
While there are federal and state laws and regulations, such as the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) that provide guidelines for accessibility, Cal Poly Pomona’s disABILITY Awareness Month offers additional perspectives about the capabilities of people with disabilities. “Our disABILITY Awareness Month is an opportunity to represent the human touch and meaning behind the legal mandates,” Schmitt Whitaker says. “It is about our commitment to the spirit of access and inclusion for all members of our community.”
DisABILITY Awareness Month Events
- “Unlimited Possibilities” Keynote Address: Actress and activist Jennifer Kumiyama, Thursday, April 2 from noon to 1 p.m. in the Bronco Student Center, Ursa Major.
- Movie Night: “The Theory of Everything,” followed by a panel discussion, Friday, April 3 from 7 to 10 p.m. in Building 163-1015.
- Book Display “Unlimited Possibilities @ Your Library,” showcasing books related to the topic of disability, April 1-June 12 in the Browsing Collection area on the third floor. Follow the sign near the elevator to find the area of the display.
- “Pets Supporting People,” featuring Professor Aubrey Fine, Tuesday, April 28 from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the University Plaza.
- “Art With Impact & Stigma Reduction” workshop, featuring short films on mental health and a discussion, Tuesday, April 28 from 5 to 7:30 p.m. in the Bronco Student Center, Ursa Minor.
- “Veterans Mental Health 101” workshop for faculty and staff on mental-health concerns that student veterans may face, Wednesday, April 29 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the Bronco Student Center, Ursa Major C.