By Jenna Capelle
Advocates 4 Abilities (A4A), a new club at Saint Mary’s University founded by seniors Bethany Hastings, Rachel Elbert, and Diana Lundeen, offers a positive support system for those with disabilities and educates the SMU community about different disabilities.
The three seniors want to take away the negative connotations of “disabilities” and put a greater focus on people’s abilities.
“The purpose of A4A is to educate and advocate about different capabilities,” said Elbert. “We’re changing the language to make [disabilities] more positive.”
Meetings are typically held once per week with SMU Counselor and A4A Advisor Holly Courtenay present. Information shared by students in group discussions is kept confidential between those attending the meeting.
“We want to help people experience interacting with those with abilities and help people become more comfortable talking about different capabilities,” said Lundeen.
The club also intends to spread awareness about various types of mental and physical disorders.
“We want to cover any topics that people are struggling with such as Autism, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, depression, and Asperger’s Syndrome,” said Lundeen.
In the spring, A4A hopes to hold an “Awareness Day” for students to experience a sensory walk or utilize wheelchairs. The club also plans to organize a few events with the Special Olympics of Winona.
For more information about A4A, send inquiries to Hastings (brhast08), Elbert (raelbe07) or Lundeen (drlund08).