By Kevin Ryans SYRACUSE, NY (NCC NEWS)— A student organization at Syracuse University is on a mission to help the disabled feel comfortable and included. It’s called OrangeAbililty. The event this past weekend brought disabled people to the SU campus to welcome them as an integral part of the central New York community.
About 200 people gathered inside the Women’s Building at Syracuse University for the event. Sponsored by the Disability Student Union and the Disability Cultural Center at SU, the event is an accessibility expo aimed at giving kids with disabilities a chance to participate in athletics.
Disability Student Union President Lawrence Sloane says it is an event unlike any other on the SU campus.
“Everyone’s been so happy that there’s an event that brings people together,” Sloane said. “The fact that we have everybody participating regardless of disability or without disability makes it so special and so great.”
Vice president Rachel Langer stresses the expo provides a safe place for those with disabilities. She believes that people, in general, need to be more aware of how difficult it is for those with disabilities to get around.
“People don’t realize, even around campus how inaccessible I guess it is for people with disabilities,” Langer said. “And just, even if you’re on crutches, it’s hard sometimes.”
One of the goals of the disability student union and the student association here at Syracuse University is to spread inclusivity around the campus community.
“It’s just so important in a big university like this to have these types of events,” said Disability Student Union treasurer Liz Barile. “Everyone can participate and everyone can have fun.”
In addition to Sunday’s festivities, the SU student association relaunched its cycle share program. Formerly called the Bike Share program, the initiative provides bicycles for Syracuse University students. This year two bicycles adaptive for the disabled have been added to the stock.
Disability cultural center director Diane Wiener says there’s been an ongoing commitment on the SU campus for all people to be included in events. Wiener stresses everyone in some way is affected by someone with a disability.
“People really do have an emotional and very philosophical connection to this event,” Weiner said. “People tell me all the time that they feel like it’s one of the few places where they really feel welcomed and included. I hope that someday, truly, that happens all the time for everyone.”