The Body Project emphasized the possibilities, not the impossible, for those with disabilities at their event START SEEING disABILITY Wednesday.
The event included demonstrations with service dogs, Best Buddies presentations and pickup wheelchair basketball games.
“START SEEING disABILITY is about spreading awareness of how individuals that have a disability are not just their disability,” Kati McDermott, a senior community wellness major and event planning and programming Body Project intern, said. “I think sometimes it’s easy to make assumptions about disabled individuals, but this event is about reducing those stereotypes. We want to show the ability that these people have.”
To put on the event, Body Project paired up with American Sign Language Club, the Office of Diversity and Inclusion, Best Buddies, Wags for Mags and the Heart of Illinois Special Recreation Association. These organizations share common goals of anti-discrimination and equality between all people.
“[Best Buddies] decided to partner with the Body Project for this event because they understand the importance of showing the similarities in people rather than the differences,” sophomore nursing major and Best Buddies president Becky Sidlowski said. “START SEEING disABILITY demonstrates that a person should be defined by what they can do rather than what they cannot. Everyone has different skills and ways of doing things, so it is important to highlight those positive skills.”
Sponsors said they hoped to educate Bradley students by helping them see perspectives of people with disabilities. The goal was for participants to leave feeling inspired and holding a greater appreciation for all people.
“I have a disability, and this event has been a dream of mine to bring to Bradley, and my vision has finally become a reality,” senior sports communication major Taylor Jackson said. “It is important because it is embracing a community of people that have been ignored as a minority group.”
Danielle Glassmeyer, the coordinator of the event, said the event’s name was created to address the issue of paying attention to these individuals.
“While some disabilities literally cannot be seen because they are internal or cognitive, nevertheless, it’s surprising how often people with disabilities are treated like they are invisible,” Glassmeyer said. “But we also want to stress that we need to look beyond the disability to see the person’s abilities. That’s why we both show and cross out the ‘dis.’”
After participating in the event, freshman math education major Cassandra Marchok said she felt like her eyes had been opened to how people with disabilities live day-to-day.
“The wheelchair basketball was very fun,” Marchok said. “I’ve never been in a wheelchair … I didn’t know how to maneuver it. There were kids whipping around and I’m like, ‘I don’t know what I’m doing.’ It was really cool to see how it works.”
Senior manufacturing engineer Lauren Dahlke said the event was educational.
“This event was a great opportunity and level playing ground to start conversations and open people’s eyes to independence and empowerment of disabilities in today’s world,” she said. “I loved being able to see people trying wheelchair basketball and learning more about other great organizations on campus, as well as in the community.”