Augustana Observer

Augustana Observer

Augustana Observer

Power outage rocks campus
Power outage rocks campus
Jack Brandt September 13, 2023

Augie holds first ever Ability Awareness Week

Sophomore Tracy Pham sharing love with Ozzy in the Gavle rooms on April 5. Photo by Mikaylo Kelly.

From Sunday, March 31 to Saturday, April 6, various organizations and student groups on campus came together to put on Augustana’s first ever Ability Awareness Week.

Yen Dao, director of student success services, came up with the idea for Ability Awareness Week. She said that she felt there was a lack of awareness across campus about abilities and disabilities. Dao worked alongside Sustained Dialogue to reach out to student groups and organize the event.

Junior Haley Degreve said that it’s important to remember that ability, whether it’s physical, mental or emotional, is relevant to all students.

“We have to create awareness around the fact that everyone is struggling with something that limits their ability,” DeGreve said. “Whether that’s physical or something that you’re struggling with mentally or emotionally, it’s important that we recognize it.”

Degreve’s The Gray Matters Campaign started off the week with the showing of a documentary called Beyond Silence. It told the story of three individuals that struggled with different mental health issues and how they worked to overcome them.

“Getting people more informed and educated as to how other people around them operate in their everyday lives [is so important],” DeGreve said. “We need to be more compassionate as a campus. I think this is just one way to give a message of empathy and hope, and to show people that it’s okay not to be okay. You’re not alone.”

On Monday, counseling services put on a meet and greet to raise awareness of the services offered to students on campus. On Tuesday, Augie’s National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) showed the film “Perks of Being a Wallflower” in the Olin auditorium.

Wednesday, the Student Speech-Language-Hearing Association held an Empathy Workshop in the Wilson Center. The workshop simulated what it’s like to have a speech or learning disability to increase student’s understanding.

On Thursday, Jacob Romaniello, the college’s English Language Learner specialist, led a walking meditation.

Romaniello said that whether you are a student or an athlete, meditation and mindfulness is beneficial. “After the meditation session, students said they felt more calm, focused and able to pay attention,” Romaniello said. “It also boosts your mood, creativity, lowers anxiety and lowers tension.”

On Friday, the co-ed national fraternity chapter Alpha Phi Omega held the Pause for Paws event. They had service dogs come on campus that students could pet to de-stress after week five.

Sophomore DiAngelo Gonzales helped organize the event. “We wanted to make an event that raises awareness for mental health and other abilities,” Gonzales said. “It gives an outlet for students and helps them to just lay back and have some fun.”

At the end of the week, sorority Delta Chi Theta put on a mental health walk to raise awareness and provide support for those who struggle with mental health.

Senior Taryn Woell, president of the sorority, said that the mental health walk and all the events held throughout the week have a strong positive impact on students.

“I think having a week broadcasted through campus is a special way to have students know that they have a place to go and know that people are here for them,” Woell said.

“I think it’s really cool to show this message across so many different groups and having so many different people coming together to talk about this,” DeGreve said. “This week allows people the opportunity to learn more if they’re not struggling, or if you are struggling, to know that you are a priority.”

Featured Image: Sophomore Tracy Pham sharing love with Ozzy in the Gavle rooms on April 5. Photo by Mikaylo Kelly.

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Augie holds first ever Ability Awareness Week