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ADA celebration event brings Disabilities Awareness Month to close

Washington State University Vancouver has been celebrating Disabilities Awareness Month all month, with many events and students tabling in the Quad to promote awareness of disabilities. Students made pledges to use inclusive language by signing their name on a link in a paper chain that grew to dozens of feet in length.

Th e celebration came to a close on October 27 in the Firstenberg Student Commons with the American Disabilities Act (ADA) celebration event hosted by the Salmon Creek Journal in association with the Student Diversity Center as well as the Student Accessibility and Empowerment club. Staff members from all mentioned organizations have been planning the event since July.

Jennifer Schwartz, poetry editor of the Salmon Creek Journal, said that a great deal of preparation went into the event. Schwartz put together an ADA tribute video shown at the event and arranged for a local Portland artist, Catherine Hill, to showcase her work at the event.

Hill is a visually impaired artist who has been highlighted in publications such as the Oregonian. Hill is also an inspirational speaker and has given back to the Portland community by giving art classes and working with children who have a disability. Hill had her original artwork displayed on the walls of the Firstenberg Student Commons during the event.

Guests at the event were encouraged to engage with the art presented by responding to a series of questions asked on flyers through art, sculpture, writing or another art form. The questions were: how has the ADA impacted your life? What does full accessibility and equity mean to you? And, do you have a story to share to raise awareness about the diverse abilities of our community members?

Tommy Culhane was one student entrant. “I was inspired to attend because I live with ADHD, and I wanted to tell my story.” Culhane said early in the event.

The Salmon Creek Journal also put on an art and writing contest during the event. Two winners were selected with their work also being considered for publication in the Salmon Creek Journal in April of 2016.

The winners of the contest were Johann Baran in first place, whose poem “My Super Power” told the story of his experiences living with Autism Spectrum Disorder. In second place was Anna Hixon. Hixon won for her PSA inspirational animation that raised awareness for people living with a disability and how there is still room to grow to make everyday life more accessible to them. Guests of the event then enjoyed a custom cake made for the anniversary of the ADA.

Students who have questions about the ADA celebration event can contact Jennifer Schwartz at jenniferlschwartzwa@gmail.com or the Student Diversity Center at 360-546-9568.

Students can also visit the Student Diversity Center website at http://studentaff airs.vancouver.wsu.edu/student-diversity for information on upcoming events.

Students who are interested in becoming a member of the Student Accessibility and Empowerment club can visit the club’s page on CougSync or contact Paula Achter at pmachter@gmail.com.

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