We are all able: The Ability Experience

Source: independenceaustralia.com

Having just received international recognition through the highly acclaimed Changemaker Award, the Bellevue College Rotaract Club has a history of success and high hopes for the future.  The world wide Rotaract organization’s goal is to change the world for the better – and so far the BC club has been recognized for going above and beyond, all the way to Peru. The club plans to continue its outreach to Papua New Guinea, but also to improve the lives of those on this campus.

The prestigious Changemaker Award came to the club late April. It was an award based on an accumulation of work done by the club, the most recent of which was a six-person trip to Peru to help children, burn facilities and orphanages.

“We’re the only club in the district to win a Rotaract award, ever,” said Eileen Cho, president of the club.

Coming up, the club will “adopt” a village in Papua New Guinea, a country plagued with malaria. For $5 a net, villagers can be shielded against malaria and avoid ever contracting the disease. The Rotaract club will be hosting bake sales on May 8 and 10, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. to raise money to buy 30 malaria nets, enough to shield the entire village of 300 people. The bake sale will be in the cafeteria.

“Malaria is 100 percent preventable, but every 30 seconds a child dies from it,” said Cho.

On May 17 and 18, however, is the biggest campus event of the year sponsored by the Rotaract Club. The Ability Experience is an event to raise awareness of global health and of the differently abled.  It’s a two-day experience, going from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on both days, with activities to raise awareness.

On the first day, the event will focus on global health awareness. There will be information booths and museum-style showcases. “Global Healthy Day aims to help people understand the obstacles developing countries are facing,” said Dominic Tran, organizer of the event.

There will be a polio table, an iron lung on display, and a set-up of a malaria net. “We’re going to be informing people about malaria,” said Tran.

UNICEF and the Doctors and Dentists clubs on campus will be participating in the event, with tables showcasing what they do.

The second day will be the experience allowing everyone to understand the lifestyle of the differently abled. “The theme for the second day is ‘We Are All Able,’” said Tran.  “There will be four activities in the gym, including a sight challenges, a simulation in which a participant will see what it’s like to have their sight taken away.”

There will also be wheelchair obstacle courses, an exercise in getting changed in a wheel chair, taking out the trash in a wheel chair and a hearing challenge, where participants will try to communicate while wearing hearing accluders.

This is the third annual Ability Experience.  It started after the Rotaract Club went to Nepal and worked with differently abled children there. “Every trip we go on, we try to bring those experiences back,” said Tran.

For example, this is the first year a global health event has happened – this was inspired by their trip to Peru.

The Disability Resource Center is supporting the Ability Experience, and so the Rotaract Club is also supporting the Disability Resource Center’s Autism Awareness Video Game Tournament happening later that same day.

This event is to raise awareness for a new support program for students on the autism spectrum called Autism Spectrum Navigators. “This program supports autistic students in four areas: Executive Functioning, Self-Regulation, Self-Advocacy, and Social Interaction through weekly one-on-one meetings,” said Sara Gardner, program advisor, in an email.

The event starts at 3 p.m. and ends at 8 p.m. and will be held in the cafeteria.

“[The event] is for everyone!” said Gardner. “We want all students and families and community members to know about autism at college and how it affects everyone – not just the students on the autism spectrum.”

Tran said, “Both these events are focused on promoting the differently abled.”