October dedicated to disabled

Numerous events, including art exhibits, concerts and film screenings are planned for next week when UCSD will kick off Disability Awareness Month.

The festivities serve to foster a greater understanding and create dialogue regarding the disabled and how they overcome daily challenges, according to the organizers.

“”We want people to become aware of the abilities of people with disabilities,”” said Bonnie Matheny, a UCSD employee rehabilitation counselor. “”We try to emphasize that if you focus on their abilities, then you realize that they have a lot to bring to the university, to their jobs and to the community as a whole.””

Office for Students with Disabilities Outreach Assistant Tracy Le said there is not enough awareness about people who live with disabilities.

“”I don’t think a lot of the school, the public or the faculty know about people with disabilities and what they can accomplish,”” she said.

Le views the upcoming events as important to the education of the university community.

“”I would like students to be aware that not everybody at this school has all the same capabilities,”” Le said. “”We need to be aware that people do have disabilities and they do overcome them.””

Artwork ranging from paintings to music will be showcased during “”A Celebration of Abilities”” in the Price Center on Tuesday and Wednesday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. The show will feature artwork and music created by artists with disabilities.

On Tuesday, vocalists/guitarists Mark Goffeney and Patty Hutchings will perform at Price Center Plaza from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Goffeney has no arms and will play the guitar with his feet. A question-and-answer sesson will follow their performance.

“”We encourage the audience to ask them questions about their disabilities so people feel free and comfortable with talking to them and finding out more about them, and learn from that,”” Matheny said.

Discussion among artists and those in attendance is integral in understanding the challenges people with disabilities face and to realize the inspiring ways they are able to overcome it, said Maggie Houlihan, former president of Community Advocates for Disability Rights and Education.

“”[The artists] will be there to explain their art and how they use it for therapy,”” Matheny said.

To Le, the program offers a forum for people to educate themselves and be enlightened.

“”It is inspiring to see people with obstacles work around [them] and still live the same life as someone without any of those obstacles,”” she said.

In addition to music and art, free films will be screened. “”Simon Birch”” will be shown Tuesday at 7 p.m. and 10 p.m. in the Price Center Theater.

The 1999 Academy Award-winning documentary “”King Gimp”” will also be shown. The film documents how Dan Keplinger, a 27-year-old with cerebral palsy, communicates through painting because talking is nearly impossible for him. It will be shown Thursday, Oct. 4 at 5 p.m. in the Cross Cultural Center.

On Oct. 19 there will be a lecture on stem cell research in the Price Center Theater at 7 p.m. Following the lecture will be a discussion with a panel of UCSD scientists, doctors and professors who will present opinions on the controversial subject.

The monthlong activities are sponsored by the Office for Students with Disabilities, Community Advocates for Disability Rights and Education, the Cross Cultural Center, the Employee Rehabilitation Program, the Equal Opportunity/Staff Affirmative Action Office and the Women’s Center.

“”I hope people will come away with the idea that everybody has a different level of skills which have far less to do with ability than with interest and talent,”” Houlihan said. “”People need to realize we are all individuals. Disabilities are jut one aspect of one’s life experience.””

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