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ACBU brings mental health and disability awareness with guest speaker

Matt Glowacki has been a diversity speaker touring college campuses for over a decade. Photo via Matt Glowacki.

Mental health can be a challenging part of managing life, and the struggles it can cause are more widespread than you may think. More than 50% of Americans may experience a diagnosis of mental illness or disorders.

Tuesday evening, ACBU hosted an event with guest speaker Matt Glowacki where he shared his story regarding his disability and mental health, and how students can understand they’re not alone.

Rachel Becker, an event coordinator for ACBU, stated that they organized the event to raise awareness about how to greet people who have disabilities with inclusion and advocacy.

Glowacki was born without legs and has learned how to take his everyday experiences and talk to others who struggle with specific disabilities.

“Matt has a powerful story, and he was just very enthusiastic about this topic, and he had a lot of great topics for this event that he wanted to discuss,” Becker, a senior hospitality and leadership major, said.

Glowacki typically books 120 speaking engagements per year.

“I want to let [students] know what they’re experiencing is pretty common,” Glowacki said. “It’s nothing that we dedicated to them. They just don’t have anything to be afraid of. It’s just something that everyone is going through right now.”

Throughout the speech, Glowacki addressed several topics associated with living with a disability. He talked about growing up and witnessing the reactions from people once they saw him. Next, Glowacki talked about the Identity Circle, where there are three layers in oneself and how someone would identify you.

As he neared the end of his speech, he let some of the students in the audience talk about their life experiences with a disability and ask them how they feel today.

Glowacki also stated that 80% of college students suffer from non-apparent disabilities including anxiety, depression and PTSD that are all covered under the American Disabilities Act.

“What we’re trying to do is normalize going through something,” Glowacki said. “What you’re going through might be different than what I’m going through, but we’re still going through something. Even though the act is different, the experiences rhyme.”

After the event, Ben Reitmeier, another event coordinator for ACBU said that he hopes students leave the presentation with an understanding of someone living with disabilities.

“We hope students find some info that they have not known before and that they feel encouraged about topics like this, and others as well,” Reitmeier, junior history major, said.

“We’re hoping this encourages people to communicate about things they may not think about daily but are important and critical conversations to have.”

You can learn more about Glowacki by visiting his website.

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