October is Disability Awareness Month at Polk State College, an annual event that began four years ago to illuminate the experiences of students who refuse to let their disabilities interfere with their educational and professional pursuits.
“A lot of our students are living with disabilities and being successful,” said Kim Pearsall, academic success counselor on the Lakeland campus and head of the Disability Awareness Month Committee.
“By educating our students, staff and faculty, we address stereotypes about disabilities and increase sensitivity on campus.”
With increased sensitivity, Pearsall explained, those with disabilities will enjoy a more inclusive, supportive educational environment, helping them achieve their goals.
The month’s events begin at 11 a.m. on Oct. 15 with a free showing of the Emmy-winning film, “Autism: The Musical.” Free lunch will also be provided. The event will be on the Lakeland campus in LTB 1100.
“Autism: The Musical” follows five autistic children as they write, rehearse and perform a full-length musical, defying all expectations along the way.
“People make assumptions that those with autism can’t interact, can’t make connections, but this film silences all those myths,” Pearsall said.
Next on the slate of events is a Polk State College Jazz Combo performance from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Oct. 25 in WST 126 on the Winter Haven campus. The group will perform an array of inspirational, motivational numbers. Free lunch will also be served.
The events conclude on Nov. 5 at the Winter Haven Health Center with a demonstration by the Tampa Bay Strong Dogs, a semi-professional wheelchair basketball team. The team will show off their skills at 7:30 p.m., during halftime of a Polk State Basketball game. Free T-shirts will be available for the first 50 people who say, “October is Disability Awareness Month.”
The event will be a perfect way to demonstrate what people are able to achieve despite their disabilities, Pearsall said.
“Having a disability is a challenge, but it doesn’t have to interfere with pursuing your goals and dreams,” she said.
For more information, contact Pearsall at 863.669.2309.