Lindenwood hosts multiple events to recognize Disability Awareness Month


Photo by Lindenwood University

Lindenwood University hosts various events during the Disability Awareness Month to educate students, faculty, and staff.

Hadel Abdelkarim, Reporter

Throughout the month of March, Lindenwood has hosted multiple events to spread the word, raise awareness, and recognize Disability Awareness month on campus.

Manager of Students Support and the Accessibility Lead Program Janet Owens started a Disability Focus Group in August 2022. Owens’ team in the Student Advising and Support Services department has put on events for students throughout the month of March for Disability Awareness.

Some of the events included Recognition of Disability Awareness and the Guest Speakers event.

“We worked with the Diversity and Inclusion office, because they were doing speaker series and then Diversified Pride is next week, and that’s why we did one of our events that week as well so that we could be a part of that,” Owens said.

Another upcoming event that will be happening is Amazing Race Ability Edition where groups of students, faculty, and staff will participate in a race. This race will involve about six to eight teams, some will be designated in a wheelchair to go around campus, and others will have various types of accommodations to test out.

“I’m really excited about just getting awareness and inclusion out there for our disabled students, the event will help bring a lot of awareness,” Owens said.

Career Strategist for the Plaster School of Business and Entrepreneurship Sarah Rinker was a previous graduate assistant in the SASS office. As part of her role, she helped assist Owens and explained how she started helping out with the focus group.

“Part of my role over there was to kind of help out any faculty as needed along with my traditional job duties, and so it really just came from helping Janet,” Rinker said.

Rinker will be volunteering at the Amazing Race that will take place Thursday, March 30, and looks forward to the upcoming event.

“I just look forward to students with accommodations feeling represented and I’m also excited to see students without any accommodations or maybe without any experience with living with a handicap or a disability to really get an idea of what that’s like every single day,” Rinker said.

Rinker hopes that this event will bring awareness to people’s different abilities that some people may not realize before. The goal is bringing attention to various things around campus that are not handicap or disability-friendly, Rinker said.

Another person involved with Focus Group is Lindenwood’s student Madison Fournie, who met Owens through one of the training courses taught through the DEI program.

“She [Owens] told me about a disability awareness group she led on campus, and I went to their meeting later that day. I am so thankful to be a part of two amazing groups of people who work side by side to make our campus a more inclusive place for everyone,” Fournie said.

Fournie helped spread the word about Courageous Conversations and other talks the CDI puts on, as well as helped the Special Olympics Missouri Cheerleading cheer at one of the games.

“I hope students can learn to be more courteous to the people around them. I want Lindenwood to feel like home to everyone like it does to me and that starts with the little things, like treating people kindly, especially if you do not know them or if they are different than you in some way,” Fournie said.

Fournie hopes that Amazing Race brings awareness to people and that a tiny action can make a difference.

“Doing one small action can be a big factor in how someone says their day went,” Fournie said. “Use this week and the resources we have on campus 24/7 to educate yourself on how to be helpful and actively try to put that into your everyday life.”

The Amazing Race event will take place on Thursday, March 20 from 3 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. on campus.