Celebrate Ability Week challenges disability stereotypes

Posted on 2 October 2017 at 9:20am

COLUMBIA - MU's Celebrate Ability Week kicks off Monday with five days of events that are held to educate people on the contributions of people with disabilities, as well as celebrate those achievements and challenge stereotypes people may have of people with disabilities. 

One of the first events is the Lee Henson Mizzou Access Award, which will honor a few people from around the campus community for their effort in disability inclusion. This is the fourth annual year the Henson Award has been a part of Celebrate Ability Week.

"Four years ago the Lee Henson Access Mizzou Awards became a linchpin part of the week," Disability Center Director Barb Hammer said. "We will be recognizing members of the campus community that have been determined to have done something or a host of different things to contribute to disability inclusion."

The event of the week however, will be Wednesday's keynote speaker, judo bronze medalist Para-Olympian Dartanyon Crockett. Tickets to his speech, and all other events this week, are free and open to the public. But Hammer thinks that a week to celebrate ability just isn't enough.

"It shouldn't be about a week. It shouldn't be about a week, it should be an ongoing thing," Hammer said. "We do this because that's kinda what you do when you're on a university campus, you're gonna have a week to commemorate or to mark a particular topic or to raise awareness about a particular topic."

"I think for us the issue is people need to understand disability differently than they have in the past, and I think anything we can do to help people be mindful of how they can make their own environment more inclusive, more welcoming, more accessible the better, and I think that should be an ongoing thing, it shouldn't just be one week out of the year."

Disability Center Assistant Director Ashley Brickley said she wants people to use this week to gain a new understanding of people with disabilities. 

"I really want people to kinda go away from this week realizing disability is a part of diversity," Brickley said. "Disability does not mean that somebody can't do something and really embracing and celebrating the ability that is within disability."