Celebrate the progression of disabilities research
The Disabilities Awareness Festival returns to Auraria
Published: Wednesday, October 3, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, October 3, 2012 01:10
Every year Auraria plays host to the Disabilities Awareness Festival during National Disability Awareness month.
Like a traditional fair or festival, the awareness festival had cotton candy machines, popcorn vendors, and table after table of free stuff on Oct. 2.
“I saw the balloons and just headed over because of that,” said CU Denver senior Connor Bennet. “But when I saw the material, I couldn’t help but check out all of the booths.”
Bennet said he grew up in a world of disabilities. His older brother, before passing, was affected by cerebral palsy. “Even after his passing, it’s amazing to see support for disabilities like we have here on campus,” Bennet said.
Each year the disabilities access centers from all three campuses work with the Mental Health Center of Denver to sponsor the event. Festival booths include more than just surface-level information about defining mental and physical disabilities.
Some of this year’s features included specialized technology to help students with day-to-day functions like
“[My brother] Chuck’s situation was more physical than anything else,” Bennet said. “When he went to college, he said the biggest obstacle was just getting from place to place. If he had access to some of these services and programs we have [on campus], he might have had an easier time in school.”
The disabilities festival is an event to raise awareness as much as it is an event to celebrate people thriving with disabilities. Renowned blues musician Henry Butler played a solo show at this year’s festival.
Butler was blinded by glaucoma at birth, but continues to live his dream as a musician and plays shows across the
country. “Blind or not, this guy kicks ass,” said CCD freshman and festivalgoer Kyle Jefferson.
Kathy Ehret, program manager at the Mental Health Center of Denver, was a key player in organizing the festival. Her mother, who suffered from multiple sclerosis, inspired her work with disabilities.
“We’re all one accident away from having a disability,” she said. It’s important that we all know these issues.”
Students with disabilities can visit the UCD Disabilities and Resources Office free of charge. The office works with students with both mental and physical disabilities and provides services to enrich their educational experience.
Bennet and Ehret both said that it’s important that students who don’t suffer disabilities be aware of the issues handicapped persons face.
“It’s courteous to your fellow man,” said Bennet. “Just out in the working world you’re going to encounter disabled people. Nowadays it’s critical to be able to handle those situations no matter what environment you’re in.”