Disability Awareness Month Activities Designed to Spur Thought, Conversation on Issues

Disability Awareness MonthDiscussion and dramatic presentations are the conduits for providing concepts and information to the Big Rapids community as Ferris State University will host Disability Awareness Month activities throughout October.

The Liaison Committee for Students with Disabilities has arranged four events for its 2018 Disability Awareness Month schedule, according to committee member Maggie Walcott.

On Tuesday, Oct. 9, touring troupe Theater Delta will offer a performance on depression and suicidal ideation in University Center 202. The pre-show begins at 6 p.m. prior to the actual event at 7 p.m.

“This interactive group has made a number of visits to the Ferris campus with a great deal of positive feedback about their performances,” Walcott said. “A vast majority of those who offer reaction following this particular subject matter say that they found what they saw to be of great personal importance. Two-thirds of those who saw the program said they will be changing their behavior based on what they learned from the performance. We expect a good crowd for this event.”

On Monday, Oct. 15, the 2018 R-rated film “Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far on Foot” will be shown starting at 6 p.m. in University Center, Room 202C. Walcott said students and the public will recognize Joaquin Phoenix, Jack Black and Jonah Hill as cast members. She added that students might also be familiar with other works of the film’s director Gun Van Sant.

“This movie tells the story of John Callahan, a paralyzed alcoholic who becomes a published newspaper cartoonist noted for his off-color work,” Walcott said. “This is just not the type of film that will see wide distribution nationally, and very few exhibitions in our region. The committee feels lucky to have the chance to present it, as it addresses important topics.”

The final session organized by the committee is a forum and luncheon on Tuesday, Oct. 23 in University Center 202C, which will consider enrollment change. Walcott said they will seek RSVP’s up until Tuesday, Oct. 15 from those looking to attend this session, which will begin at 11 a.m. that day.

“Our keynote address offered during ‘A Forum for (Enrollment) Change’ comes from Liz Plachta, who is the chief executive officer and co-founder of the nonprofit, ‘Ruby’s Rainbow,’” Walcott said. “Her Texas-based nonprofit has provided over $640,000 in sponsorships to 223 adult students with Down Syndrome. College campuses nationwide are working to bring in students, but there is an entire population here, who are clamoring for their opportunity. I hope that this forum can engender some new consideration, as inclusivity and providing access is very much aligned with the mission of our founder, Woodbridge Ferris.”

The “Skeleton Skurry” steps off for a sixth year on Saturday, Oct. 27 beginning at Big Rapids City Hall at 9:30 a.m., with on-site registration beginning at 7:30 a.m. Walcott said she will accept contact by email from those who are visually impaired and would require guide services to assist their participation.

“We are very glad to be collaborating with this event, which is now fully inclusive to support persons of all abilities,” Walcott said.

The Skeleton Skurry is the only Disability Awareness Month event with a cost to participate, and a link for pre-registration is available at bigrapidsnews.com.


PHOTO CAPTION:  Disability and educational access advocate Liz Plachta, center, of Ruby’s Rainbow, will be the keynote speaker at a forum and luncheon Tuesday, Oct. 23, part of Ferris State University’s schedule of activities during Disability Awareness Month. (Photo courtesy rubysrainbow.org)