The first Discovering Abilities Week 2010 started last Friday, March 19th, with a screening of the film The Motorcycle Diaries. Student group Global Neighbors—founded by Bettina Tam ’10—has organized the week’s events.
Global Neighbors’ Public Relations Representative Caitlin Russell ’11 explained that the group “works to eliminate discrimination and promote the dignity of people marginalized because of medical and/or physical conditions.” GN currently works with a group in China called Joy in Action that seeks to improve conditions for sufferers of Hansen’s disease, commonly known as leprosy. The group also sends volunteers to a school in Swarthmore called Children and Adult and Disability and Educational Services (CADES), which is for children with developmental disorders.
Russell said that the goal of Discovering Abilities Week is to “raise awareness both of our relatively new group (it is in its second year), and of the greater issues we are concerned with. We’re also hoping to create stronger ties between the Swarthmore community and our partner organizations.” She noted that in the future, Global Neighbors hopes to have “more involvement from organizations with similar missions, such as SibShop, Lions’ Club, and TopSoccer.”
There was also an opening at the Kitao Gallery on March 19th showcasing artwork from students at CADES. On Monday, there was a TopSoccer session at the fieldhouse. TopSoccer is a “community-based organization for children with differences.”
Upcoming events include “The Great Wheelchair Challenge” on Wednesday from 4pm to 5pm in front of Parrish, where students will be challenged to go various places on campus in a wheelchair in an effort to see how handicap accessible Swarthmore is. On Friday, March 26th, there is the Discovering Abilities Panel in Science Center 101 at 6:30pm, where a group of board members from CADES who have had “a range of personal experiences with differences” will talk and answer student questions.
The week concludes with two events on Saturday, March 27th. One is a parlor party at 8pm with dumplings, where students will have the opportunity to help with an artwork exchange that will be sent to villagers with Hansen’s disease in China. Then, at 9pm there will be a screening of Autism: The Musical, a film about five children with autism writing and performing a musical production.