At the celebration for Disability Awareness Month held at Yuba College the message was not one of disability but ability. Yuba College’s program for students with disabilities is one that gives students the opportunities and ability to achieve their goals. The atmosphere was one of excitement and many caring individuals. There was art work displayed by very talented students and a pumpkin decorating contest. There was also a beautiful cake that was quite tasty as well.
Funding for the program was cut 45% last year so the celebration was smaller in size than the celebrations of previous years but was large in heart.
There are strong bonds between the students, counselors, and others who work in disabled students services building. “Everyone here is very helpful and always smiling,” said Susan Garrett, a student at Yuba College. “I think it is great because it helps people understand that we aren’t dumb,” Garrett said about the celebration of awareness. Garrett felt defeated in school when she was younger. Schools did not understand students with certain disabilities when she attended school and children were cruel. She said, “Without this program, I wouldn’t have come back to school.”
Other students expressed their appreciation for the program as well. Lorell Fierro said, “I am glad the program is here. They are willing to help me and have patience with me.”
Jan Ponticelli, the Director of Disabled Student Services said this, “Instead of looking at disability we should look at ability. We are so much more than disabled.”
A new legislation was passed that the civil rights of people with disabilities will now be taught in schools. Ponticelli expressed great passion when speaking about this new legislation.
Disabilities should not define a person. People with disabilities are just as capable of achieving their hopes and dreams as the rest of us. Our society needs to be aware of this. This needs to be more then just one month of awareness, it needs to be a lifetime of awareness.