posted April 2, 2007

Concert Headlines Disability Awareness Week

  A concert by Grand Rapids native Ken Medema will be among the highlights of this year's annual Disability Awareness Week at Hope College.

Medema, a blind singer and keyboardist, will perform on Wednesday, April 11, at 7:30 p.m. in Dimnent Memorial Chapel. The performance, which will be interpreted for the hearing-impaired, will take place in the midst of a week's worth of events that will begin on Monday, April 9, and continue through Friday, April 13.

The public is invited to the concert and all of the activities. Admission is free.

The concert marks a 20th anniversary return to both Hope and Disability Awareness Week for Medema. He had also performed and given presentations in 1988, the year that the college's disability awareness activities expanded to a week after previously running for a day.

Medema will also be the featured guest performer during the college's chapel service earlier on Wednesday, April 11, at 10:30 a.m. in Dimnent Memorial Chapel.

Medema makes more than 200 presentations per year. He performs in a wide variety of venues, from local congregations to charity fundraisers, to high school and university campuses, to denominational youth gatherings, to universally televised religious programs, to corporate conventions, to annual assemblies of national organizations.

He has been unable to see since being born in 1942, his sight limited to distinguishing between light and darkness and seeing fuzzy outlines of objects. He started studying music at eight years old, working with a teacher who taught him the classics with Braille music and to play by ear.

After graduating from high school, he studied music therapy at Michigan State University, where he concentrated on performance skills in piano and voice. He worked as a music therapist in Fort Wayne, Ind., and then returned to Michigan State for a master's degree in 1969, subsequently spending four years as a music therapist at Essex County Hospital in New Jersey. It was while in New Jersey that he began writing and performing his own songs, writing about the lives of the teens with whom he worked and his own Christian life.

In 1973 he left his work as a therapist and began a career as a performing and recording artist. He recorded albums for Word and Shawnee Press, and then in 1985 founded Brier Patch Music, which is an independent recording, publishing and performance-booking company with headquarters in Grandville.

Medema and his wife, Jane, have been married since 1965 and live in the San Francisco Bay, Calif., area. They have two grown children, Aaron and Rachel.

The Disability Awareness Week activities will begin in the morning on Monday, April 9, 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.

On Tuesday, April 10, 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.

A member of the college's counseling center staff will present a lecture on depression on Tuesday, April 10, at 7 p.m. in the Maas Center conference room.

On Tuesday, April 10, at 9 p.m. a descriptive video version of the film "Ghost
" 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 Thursday, April 12, from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. The room, which features equipment for those with vision impairments, is on the library's second floor.

Sign language interpreter Kristen Lambrides, who is a 1991 Hope graduate, will present a workshop on signing music on Thursday, April 12, at 8 p.m. in the Maas Center conference room. Lambrides, who will also be providing the interpretation during Medema's concert the previous evening, has worked as an entertainment sign language interpreter for 20 years, and has operated her own business, Handmade Sounds, for 15 years. She has worked with venues and artists including Fox Theater, Joe Lewis Arena, the Palace Sports and Entertainment Center, Michael W. Smith, American Idol and the Radio City Rockettes.

On Thursday, April 12, at 9 p.m. a descriptive video version of the film
"Scent of a Woman" 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.

The week will close with an ice cream social on Friday, 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. Dimnent Memorial Chapel is located on College 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.