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Opening the conversation on disability

According to sophomore history and urban studies double major Sam Fogelgaren, “disability at TCNJ is often seen as a topic that is ‘covered’ by the special education department.” However, he knew it was “important for the campus community to understand that disability impacts everyone, not just those with a disability or those who study it.”

To spread that message across campus, Fogelgaren, along with 2013 College graduate Colin Be, formed Students for Disability Awareness (SDA).

“Growing up with an Autistic brother made me realize that, whether we are personally touched by disability or not, we all encounter it, and most people do not know how to understand it, or even begin to start understanding it,” Fogelgaren said. “SDA looks to provide that start.”

SDA has several events planned in order to have a more open discussion with the community about disability. According to Fogelgaren, on Monday, April 7, SDA and the Bonner Center will be hosting a Disability Forum. Right after that will be the club’s second annual Disability Art Show.

“We are also developing an internship program with Trenton Special Parent Advocacy Group, a highly effective yet under-resourced organization that works with parents of children with special needs and Trenton Public Schools,” Fogelgaren said. “As for the future, we hope to host a student-faculty forum on disability issues in the fall, and will be pushing for the interdisciplinary inclusion of disability within the curriculum.”

SDA hopes to change not only the College’s and local community’s outlook on what disability is, but also how the issues of dialogue, policy and activism should be approached, according to Fogelgaren.

He hopes to work with other clubs, academic departments and organizations (both on and off campus) to promote dialogue about disability issues.

“SDA is a great opportunity to promote positive change at the College and beyond,” Fogelgaren said. “As college students, we take the values and experiences formed here and bring them into our adulthood — we bring them into the jobs we have, the communities we live in and the families we raise. Joining SDA is a chance to change your individual outlook, which in turn will change many other individual outlooks down the road.”

SDA meets weekly on Wednesdays at 5 p.m. in room 212 of the Education Building.

Colleen Murphy


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