March is Disability Awareness Month and the Alliance for Disability Awareness, ADA, and the Disabilities Services office are partnering with the Governor’s Council on People with Disabilities to host a variety of events to celebrate. 

“There's a good chance that every family and every individual has been impacted by someone with a disability in some way — if not now, they probably will be in the future,” said Luke Labas, the president of ADA. “It’s really important to educate [people] on disability awareness so they’re prepared when someone with a disability crosses their path.”  

This year’s theme is “Be Cool. We Are.” and focuses on “the importance of being comfortable in your own skin and making the conscious decision to be yourself,” according to an email sent by the Disabilities Services office. 

“People with disabilities are marginalized or looked down on, and I think the whole thing with [‘Be Cool. We Are.’] is demonstrating that you can interact with people with disabilities on the same level,” Labas said. “You can have deep friendships and connect with people with disabilities the same way as you would with an able-bodied friend.” 

Here are a few of the events that are being held throughout March:

Wheelchair Basketball

When: 7 p.m. March 1, 15 and 22 in the Jo Ann Gora Student Recreation and Wellness Center 

Throughout March, there are several opportunities for the Ball State community to witness and participate in a sport known as wheelchair basketball. 

“Wheelchair basketball is something that’s fast paced, and it really will give people a new perspective on athletics,” Labas said.  

Those interested in participating do not need prior experience to attend and learn how to play the sport. 

Disability Awareness Tables 

When: 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. March 13 and 14 in the Student Center Tally

Tables will be set up in the Student Center Tally with candy, stickers and brochures to educate the community on sign language, mental health and why it's important to use “people first language.”

“A lot of times students at Ball State and people in society in general — when they’re communicating or talking about people with disabilities — they put the label of disabled or crippled or whatever the case before the person,” Labas said. “For example, I'm a person with a disability, I’m not a disabled person, so it would include information packets on things like that.”

There will also be information about ADA, which meets every other Monday in room 306 of the Student Center. 

“Bottom Dollars” Film and Discussion 

When: 6 p.m. March 13 in the Student Center Forum Room 

On March 13, ADA and the Indiana Statewide Independent Living Council will sponsor a showing of "Bottom Dollars," a film about employment among those with disabilities. 

“When you look at films, people often view them as a representation of society, fairly or unfairly,” Labas said. “Having more films talk about disabilities and give perspective on disabilities is important because it also brings up the larger goal, which is more inclusion and more immersion of people with disabilities into other areas of society and entertainment.” 

The film offers solutions that could help end the segregation and discrimination against workers with disabilities and help lower the unemployment rate. 

A discussion will also follow the film for any comments or questions attendees may have, which Labas said “will be a valuable discussion.”

BSU Power Soccer Team 

When: 1-3 p.m. March 17 in the Jo Ann Gora Student Recreation and Wellness Center 

Power soccer is a competitive sport that is similar to soccer, but involves two teams of four players who use power wheelchairs on a regulation basketball court. 

Labas said he encourages members to come out and see what power soccer is like and the opportunities it presents for students in power wheelchairs. 

“It really helps encourage and build up your social skills and your networking skills,” Labas said. 

Comedian Brett Eastburn

When: 6 p.m. March 19 in the Student Center Ballroom

Brett Eastburn, who was born with a congenital birth defect known as Quad-membral Limbs Deficiency, will combine comedy and motivational speaking in talking about self-improvement with the community. 

“He’s a very funny guy. He actually has a book titled ‘I’m Not Missing Anything,’ and he really tries to convey that to people,” Labas said. 

In high school, Eastburn was inspired to begin motivational speaking, and Labas said Eastburn  “wants to convey a serious message, but make people laugh at the same time.” 

“He really had an interesting childhood and upbringing that I think a lot of people will learn from and have their perspectives changed,” Labas said.  “Just because you’re missing limbs or society tells you you’re without something [doesn’t mean] that you can’t do things because of it.”

ADA Book Club

When: 7 p.m. March 26 in Room 306 of the Student Center 

A conversation about the book “Gimp,” a memoir  by Mark Zupan, a paralympic athlete and the documentary star of the Academy-Award-nominated film "Murderball," will be held March 26. 

“We were just thinking about it from [the] perspective of having a unique way to get people together and have a discussion rather than just having an event per-say,” Labas said. 

Copies of the book are available for free to the Ball State community in the Disability Services’ office, Student Center Room 116. 

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