By Arturo Brooks and Jordan Ortega |Staff Writer|
Recently, CSUSB students attended an Ability of Awareness Fair to get a better understanding of the struggles of students with disabilities.
“I would say the student participants are excited about the event. We had a bigger turn out. Over 200 people” said Finance and Administrative Coordinator, Christina Johnston.
Guest speaker Peggy O’Neil engaged students with her talk about “Overcoming Adversity and Awakening Inner Greatness”.
Students seem to enjoy the event because of the positive message which O’Neil helps with expressing to students that the disabled are capable to do many tasks.
O’Neil’s favorite quote was said to be “walk tall,” in which, expresses her feelings on overcoming the obstacles she has faced throughout her life which she constantly shared during her speech.
For the past 13 years O’Neil has been speaking out to help others understand what living with a disability is like but has only spoken at CSUSB for the past two years.
When asked about what is the hardest part of her job she answered, “It takes a lot of energy.”
O’Neil has throughout her career inspired people to listen and acquire an understanding of the hardships faced for those who are disabled and feel inferior because they are incapable of certain tasks.
“For my first public speaking event I rand down to the restroom as far as I can. Then when I was done I tried opening the door but it was to high. Then someone helped me”said O’Neil
O’Neil uses her unforgettable, dynamic and humorous speeches to make the material she presents as an unforgettable experience for students to enjoy.
“I feel that everyone can do anything. Have lots of hope for the future” said student, Silvana Johnston.
O’Neil not only gave examples of the hardships faced in her
life, but her empowerment with getting rid of her “inner smallness.”
When asked, What would you say to someone with a disability who needs help, but afraid to come forth?
“Even the greatest leaders need support,
” said O’Neil.
Interactive booths were available to give students the experience of how living with a disability feels like.
Students were given the opportunity to acquire new knowledge from someone with a ‘disabilities’ point of view.
Contemplating what people with disabilities go through on a normal day bases with their disability, not having others understand what they go through daily.
“I want the audience on an emotional roller coaster” says O’Neil.
O’Neil uses humor and interactive challenges to help make the speech more memorable and entertaining for students.
With this event, students experienced interactive booths which offered a view of a physical disability someone has for people to be able to contemplate the struggles people with disabilities face daily.
Booths ranged from hearing impairment, to limited sight.
Even having a blind maze which allows you to cover your eyes and use a seeing stick to make it to your prize “Free Pizza.”
This event allows for a common understanding between peers, helping both students with disabilities and without cope with their “inner smallness” and “walk tall” so they will live a happier and more open lifestyle dealing with their “emotional challenges”.