posted April 6, 2006

Disability Awareness Week Begins April 10

Hope College will present a variety of activities during the college's annual Disability Awareness Week beginning Monday, April 10.

Highlights will include a keynote address by motivational speaker Johnnie Tuitel on Wednesday, April 12. The activities will run through Thursday, April 13.

The public is invited to all of the events. Admission is free.

The week will begin in the morning on Monday, April 10, with a wheelchair challenge that will have invited members of the college's student body, faculty and staff undergo a mobility impairment simulation for six, 12 or 24 hours, using wheelchairs provided by Airway Oxygen.

On Tuesday, April 11, participants will be able to simulate a variety of disabilities, including mobility impairment, hearing impairment, vision impairment and learning disabilities, as well as have an opportunity to gather information about a number of hidden disabilities. The simulations will run from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the main floor lounge of the DeWitt Center.

On Tuesday, April 11, at 9 p.m. a descriptive video version of the film "Babe" will be shown in the DeWitt Center Kletz. The video, designed for audiences with vision impairments, includes audio description of action on-screen. The Kletz staff will provide free popcorn and soda.

There will be an open house in the Disability Resource Room of the Van Wylen Library on Wednesday, April 12, from 10 a.m. to noon. The room, which features equipment for those with vision impairments, is on the library's second floor.

Johnnie Tuitel will present the address "Pay It Forward: Awakening a deeper sense of purpose," focusing on diversity, philanthropy, disability and humor, on Wednesday, April 12, at 7 p.m. in the Maas Center auditorium.

Tuitel co-founded of Alternatives in Motion, an organization that purchases wheelchairs for people in need, in 1995. He is also co-author of six children's books in the Gun Lake Adventure Series. He is a member of the Michigan Commission for Disability Concerns and national spokesperson for Permobil. In 1997 he received a WOOD TV 8 Unsung Hero Award, presented by former President Gerald R. Ford, and in 1998 he received the National Easter Seals EDI Award. A member of the college's Class of 1988, he received a Distinguished Alumni Award from Hope in 2003.

The week will close with an ice cream social on Thursday, April 13, from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. in the DeWitt Center Kletz sponsored by the college's dean of students office.

The DeWitt Center is located on Columbia Avenue at 12th Street. The Maas Center is located on Columbia Avenue at 11th Street. The Van Wylen Library is located on College Avenue south of 10th Street.