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Disability Awareness Week activities offer insight, challenges

Thursday, October 30, 2008

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Media Contact: Teresa Newton

ARLINGTON - The first Disability Awareness Week at The University of Texas at Arlington — Nov. 3 to 8 — offers some revelations about stereotypes as well as a memorial to the late Movin’ Mavs Coach Jim Hayes.

“This University has been a leader in accommodating students with disabilities,” said Dianne Hengst, director of the Office for Students with Disabilities, which sponsors the event. “But it’s been quiet. I think a lot of people don’t know about it. With this first awareness week, we hope to introduce the campus to the diversity of individuals with disabilities. We want people to be more aware of issues they face and challenge some of the stereotypes.

“Jim was a pioneer,” Hengst said of Hayes, who died in May this year. As a student in a wheelchair, he brought disability challenges to the attention of University leaders. Later, he created wheelchair basketball and tennis programs at UT Arlington. “What he did was unique in the 1970s. He trumpeted the cause of students with disabilities. We want to continue that tradition.”

The week starts with a program on dating and sexuality, topics that many people with disabilities are uncomfortable discussing, Hengst said. The group discussion starts at 7 p.m. Monday, Nov. 3, in the San Saba Room of the E.H. Hereford University Center, 300 W. First St.

“It is a sensitive subject, but we want people to be comfortable talking about this,” Hengst said. “We will close the doors when we start. This is a frank, educational program, not a therapy session. But we will close the doors when we start, so people can talk openly in the group.”

Elizabeth Page, a UT Arlington alumna, shares her story of creating Disabled Crime Victims Assistance Inc., a nonprofit organization. Page was a recent graduate from UT Arlington when she was shot, which resulted in her becoming disabled. Her talk is at noon Tuesday, Nov. 4, in the sixth floor parlor of the Central Library, 702 Planetarium Place.

A disability obstacle course at noon Wednesday, Nov. 5, provides the experience of how people with disabilities adapt and conquer the environment. The Movin’ Mavs wheelchair basketball team will help participants, who will experience life in a wheelchair or being blind. The course is on the front mall of the E.H. Hereford University Center, 300 W. First St. In case of rain, the event will move to the Maverick Activities Center, 550 W. Nedderman Drive.

The Academy Award-winning documentary “King Gimp” shows a 13-year span in the life of Dan Keplinger, who was born with cerebral palsy. See the 50-minute film at noon, Thursday, Nov. 6, in room 107 of the Social Work Complex, 211 S. Cooper St.

The late Jim Hayes, founder and long-time coach of the Movin’ Mavs, is remembered with a wheelchair basketball tournament Friday and Saturday. Hayes took the wheelchair basketball team from its start in the 1976 to seven national championships. Many of his players represented UT Arlington at the USA World Championships and the Paralympics. His program was one of the first in the country to offer full athletic scholarships for students with physical disabilities. He died May 24 at age 58.

The tournament schedule is:

Friday, Nov. 7

• 3 p.m. UT Arlington vs. Oklahoma State University, Maverick Activities Center, 550 W. Nedderman Drive

• 7 p.m. UT Arlington vs. University of Arizona, PE Building gym, 801 Greek Row Drive.

Saturday, Nov. 8

• 11 a.m. UT Arlington vs. University of Missouri , Maverick Activities Center, 550 W. Nedderman Drive;

• 7:30 p.m. UT Arlington vs. University of Alabama, Texas Hall, 701 W. Nedderman Drive.

For special accommodations for the events during Disability Awareness Week, contact the Office for Students with Disabilities at (817) 272-3364 or (800) RELAY TX.

Contact (817) 272-3364 or to learn more about Disability Awareness Week.


The University of Texas at Arlington is an Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action employer.