Disable the Label

Samantha Higgins

On April 12, 2014 the University of New Haven campus was filled with events to educate the campus on the importance of taking the stigma off mental illness. The Accessibility Resource Center and Delta Alpha Pi Honor Society along with numerous cosponsors planned the full day of events. There were discussions for student and faculty to go and listen about the Wounded Warrior Project and the rights available to a person with disabilities, as well as adaptive sports in the Beckerman Recreation Center which gave students the opportunity to play basketball in wheelchairs. Other events included a student panel where students with disabilities answered both questions they had prepared, had an open floor for the audience to ask questions to help bridge the gap and let students understand that there are students on this campus that struggle every day with a disability, some of who most don’t even notice. Students also had the opportunity to participate in a Jeopardy game that tested their knowledge on famous people with disabilities in categories such as athletes, politicians, and celebrities.

One speaker for the day was Attorney Michelle Duprey, a Disability Rights Lawyer, she spoke in the Alumni Lounge and gave her background of how she came to work for disability rights. She also advised those in the audience that “advocacy can come in many forms, from helping an individual to joining an organization and doing something bigger.” She interacted with the audience and gave insight to resources available beyond college and into the workforce. “Whether you have a disability or not, the laws change when you get out of school,” she said.
“Disable the Label is important to our campus because it is an event that informs the student body about various disabilities and it ultimately challenges students to take a stand against the stigma surrounding all forms of disability,” said Amber- Lee Miller a junior member of Delta Alpha Pi honor society.

The afternoon had the first Disable the Label Fair, where cosponsors had tables set up in Bartels programming space and the student dining room, as well as outside on the patio. Students were able to go to the tables and learn about dyslexia, schizophrenia, and other disabilities along with fun activities such as petting therapy dogs, having their caricature drawn, getting a balloon animal and free cotton candy, popcorn and hot dogs. WNHU provided music and there were mini activities such as a visual impairment simulation where students wore drunk goggles and had to maneuver a golf ball through cones with a hockey stick and a hearing voices simulation that gave insight to what a person with schizophrenia might experience.