Disability Awareness Week
Marist College’s Delta Alpha Pi International Honor Society hosted Disability Awareness Week, with activities from Oct. 22 to Oct. 25. This marks three years since the first time Marist’s chapter celebrated this week. The club included events and activities such as a Valley Café meal, an arts and crafts table, and therapy dogs to engage students in the festivities.
Delta Alpha Pi is an academic honor society for undergraduate and graduate students with disabilities, who are acknowledged for their high academic achievement. The members of Delta Alpha Pi work together to encourage students to become leaders and advocate for those with disabilities, bringing awareness to the community through activities.
The society paired with Marist Dining Services for the Valley Café on Oct. 23, to inform students of the foods that benefit someone with a specific disability, as well as the foods that have a negative effect. The arts and crafts table promoted the club and its purpose, while also showing students many ways to quiet their minds when they are feeling stressed, like squeezing one of the stress balls featured at the table. Therapy dogs also visited to give students a pick-me-up in between the hustle to classes and events.
Susan Jenkins, one of Delta Alpha Pi’s sponsors and a learning specialist at the Office of Accommodations & Accessibility, said that the club celebrates this week mainly to bring awareness to that office.
“Some students don’t know where to go if they feel they need help because some don’t discover they have a disability until they get to college,” Jenkins said. “Therefore, this process is all new to them and can be frightening.”
Additionally, Jenkins said the club and the office want to promote Marist as a diverse community comprised of different races, religions, and disabilities.
“We are Marist,” Jenkins said. “It’s important to remember that there is a world outside of you, that people are different, and that we can do more to help each other if we are more transparent.”
Leonardo Ruiz ’21, a student who works with the Office of Accommodations & Accessibility, said inclusion is vital in a society working towards becoming more accepting of people with disabilities.
“It’s important to help others with disabilities integrate in the community and explore their interests without being afraid or judged by their disability,” Ruiz said.
Above all, Jenkins said she wants to promote the idea that a person with a disability is like everyone else; he or she has some strengths as well as some weaknesses. Thus, people should focus on a person’s abilities that set him or her apart from the crowd, rather than his or her disability.