UW-Whitewater is ranked fifth among the top 10 wheelchair-friendly campuses in the country. This pride in being accessible to people with disabilities goes beyond the simple construction of the campus, however. The school administration also encourages students to join one of their three disability interest groups: Delta Alpha Pi International (DAPI) Honor Society – Gamma Sigma Chapter, American Sign Language Club (ASLC) and Disability Rights, Education, Activism, and Mentoring (DREAM.) These three groups share a common goal: to advocate for people with disabilities here in Whitewater and on the UW campus.
DREAM is currently looking for new members to join their club and become disability advocates. In particular, they seek to find students with disabilities themselves so that they can have a place to express their thoughts and opinions to an audience interested in what they are going through and ready to find solutions to meet their needs.
âI think Dream has given everyone, especially our regular members who come every week, a safe space where they know they can talk about these topics openly and freely without being afraid of being judged or seeing. their opinion judged. Our main goal is just to create a safe space for everyone and I think we do that by allowing them to express themselves and express themselves. Have conversations to help defend and teach individuals how to defend even. Said DREAM President Alexis Koenig.
While there has been a great deal of progress over the decades when it comes to the rights, education, activism and mentorship of people with disabilities, there is still a long way to go before these people are considered with the same respect as valid ones. Invisible disabilities and mental health disorders are still stigmatized in our society and make those living with these conditions reluctant to speak out.
âI also identify as a person with a disability, so I felt like I could understand what the students had to say and their concerns about accessibility and the like. I also believe that advocacy is extremely important. With DREAM, I am able to continue to advocate for students, as well as learn more about the lived experiences people have had and what we can do better to make the campus more accessible. Said DREAM advisor Alexandra Potratz.
As we slowly but steadily emerge from the pandemic, it is now more important than ever to continue to support and participate in these advocacy groups. Whether it’s a few hours a week or regularly throughout the day, there are many ways to support your community and your classmates.
âLast year the covid really had an impact on a lot of student organizations, like a drop in membership. I saw this restraint, not being able to do as much awareness in the classrooms. ‘involvement last year wasn’t really a thing due to the virtual platforms where you didn’t have as much flow as you used to. I think being able to be back in person this year has really helped just because we were able to do more outreach through the participation fair and just being able to see the members and students face to face. So I really hope that in the next few months we can just continue to building that momentum to raise awareness of who we are and what we’re talking about and really work to collaborate with other organizations to keep us on campus, âsays Koenig.
For more information on UW-Whitewater Disability Interest Groups, click here: https://www.uww.edu/csd/current-students/disability-interest-groups
For more information on DREAM, click here: https://www.uww.edu/csd/current-students/disability-interest-groups/dream