Ellie Lynch Second Year EMST and English Major email@example.com
How I got involved with IMPACT: Freshman year, my friends were all very involved in service. A few that I had met at the end of first semester were all IMPACT site leaders. They kept telling me that I would love going on an IMPACT trip since they knew I also loved service. However, I was on the fence about it. I wasn’t sure whether I wanted to “give up” my spring break and go on a service trip. After some convincing from friends, however, I signed up. I wasn’t sure whether I would even get a spot on a trip because of how late in the year it was. But, I was lucky enough to get a spot on the Greenville, South Carolina trip that focused on Youth Empowerment. I’ve always been very passionate about education and love being around kids, so the trip focus was perfect for me. On our trip, we were able to interact with kids from around the Greenville area. Every night, we reflected on the larger social issues that we were witnessing first hand. When we came back to Athens, I was able to apply what I had learned on my trip to serve in a more holistic and sustainable way. I wouldn’t trade my IMPACT experience for anything, and I’m so glad I have the opportunity to lead a trip this year.
Why Disability/Ability Awareness and Advocacy: Disability awareness hits very close to home for me. My uncle Brian has special needs and has lived with my family for my whole life. We have been able to learn and grow with Brian, experiencing alongside him the ways the world has not been accommodating to him and others like him. I am very passionate about disability/ability awareness and advocacy because of my uncle Brian. I am so excited to learn more about this multi-dimensional topic as we venture to Jackson, Mississippi this spring break!
Fun Fact: I have never seen the movie Frozen. Whoops!
Jessica Liebich Third Year Biology Major Jal20311@uga.edu
How I got involved with IMPACT: Before I even got to UGA, I heard amazing things about IMPACT. A friend of mine was very involved with IMPACT and told me all about the organization when I was touring UGA. I was so excited to go on a trip, and it did not disappoint! I went on the Spring Break Community Health and Wellbeing trip in Indianapolis, and I absolutely loved learning about our social justice issues and becoming close friends with people who shared my interests. The trip taught me how sustainable change can be made and inspired me to live a life based on service. Last year I lead a trip to Pembroke, North Carolina focused on American Indian Cultural Awareness and Advocacy. I grew so much from that trip, and my experience with IMPACT over the last two years have shaped my college experience.
Why Disability/Ability Awareness and Advocacy: Disability rights is an intersectional and important issue that affects almost 20% of the US population. I wanted to learn about the various issues that people with disabilities face in order to be more inclusive and empathetic. It is important to start a dialogue about the issues that people with varying levels of ability have and to recognize that ability/disability is not an aspect of identity that should divide people. Fun Fact: I am always up to date on Broadway news and love musicals!
About Disability/ Ability Rights
Key Terms Disability: a physical or mental condition that limits a person's movements, senses, or activities. Advocacy: any action that speaks in favor of, recommends, argues for a cause, supports or defends, or pleads on behalf of others. Awareness: concern about and well-informed interest in a particular situation or development; consciousness Ableism: discrimination in favor of able-bodied people. Accessibility:the quality of being easily reached, entered, or used by people who have a disability. Something that is accessible gives direct (or sometimes indirect) access to all people. Discrimination: the unjust or prejudicial treatment of different categories of people or things, especially on the grounds of race, age, or sex; prejudice Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA): Law made in 1991 that establishes that the United States should be made more accessible for all people -- especially in regards to those with disabilities. The purpose of this act was “to provide a clear and comprehensive national mandate for the elimination of discrimination against individuals with disabilities”
It is important to use inclusive language when discussing disability rights. There are 3 main accepted types of inclusive language outlined by different disability rights organizations, but it is best to use language that the person you are communicating with is most comfortable with. Person-first language: This kind of language puts the person before the disability in the sentence. It is the language accepted by the American Psychological Association. An example of this would be “a person who is visually impaired”. Identity-first language: This kind of language puts the disability before the person in the sentence. It is the language accepted by The National Federation of the Blind. An example of this would be “a visually impaired person”. This is thought to help disabled people claim their disability and be proud of it.
Statistics about Disability 61 million adults in the United States live with a disability The highest percentage of people living with disabilities is in the South Adults living with disabilities are more likely to have obesity, smoke, have heart disease, and have diabetes. 1 in 3 adults with disabilities do not have a regular health care provider. In 2017, Native Americans had the highest percentage of disabilities compared to all other racial groups in America. The poverty rate of working-age people with disabilities was 26.1percent.
What does disability/ ability rights look like in Jackson and Athens? There are many active citizens both in Jackson and Athens who are working hard to advocate for disability rights. The biggest nonprofit in Mississippi that advocates for differently abled people is called Disability Rights Mississippi, and they provide legal counsel for disabled people in Mississippi. They work to educate the public about disability rights and advocate for people with disabilities so that they can live and work in an inclusive environment. In Jackson, there is an amazing organization called Hope Hollow that we are planning on working with. Hope Hollows provides camps and programming for kids and adults with special needs. In Athens, many students and others are working towards equal rights for all people. The Disability Resource Center at UGA works to provide accommodations for students on campus. These can range from physical accommodations like giving rides to students who have problems with mobility to academic accommodations like note taking services and arranging for extra time on tests. Another Athens organization, Extra Special People, provides services, camps, and programming for children with disabilities. They are always in need of consistent volunteers, so check them out at www.extraspecialpeople.com if you would like to get involved! Although these organizations are working towards expanding disability rights, UGA and the Athens area have much more progress they can make. For example, the UGA Arch, a symbol of the university, is not wheelchair accessible. It is a right of passage after graduation to go under the arch, but wheelchair using people have a difficult time doing that. Hopefully this IMPACT trip will inspire and teach UGA student how to take action in advocating for accessibility for all people.
“Disability Rights Mississippi.” Disability Rights Mississippi, www.drms.ms/. “Disability Terminology: Etiquette, Culture, and Choosing the Right Words.” HIE Help Center, 25 Sept. 2018, hiehelpcenter.org/2018/09/25/disability-terminology-choosing-right-words-talking-disability/. “Hope Hollow Ministries.” Hope Hollow Ministries, www.hopehollowms.org/. “Who We Are • Extra Special People, Inc.” Extra Special People, Inc., extraspecialpeople.com/who-we-are/.
The social justice issue of Disability Rights relates to many other social justice topics. Issues such as access to healthcare, LGBTQ+ rights, ageism, and affordable housing all affect people of varying levels of ability in this country. Here are some articles that dive deeper into the ways Disability Rights are intersectional with other social justice topics.