For International Day of People with Disabilities (IDPD) yesterday, Bowdoin’s DisAbled Students Association (DASA) collaborated with Bowdoin’s Accessibility Taskforce and Bowdoin Student Government (BSG) to host a sticker contest focused on raising awareness on disabilities, both those seen by others and those battled silently.
DASA Co-Leader Thais Carrillo ’23 and other members designed the contest with the hopes that it would not only bring awareness to this national observance, but also that it would be accessible to Bowdoin students, alumni and faculty worldwide.
In the past, DASA has commemorated the day by hosting student panels about the stigmas, inequities and suffering that disabled students and staff are forced to deal with on an everyday basis. The College has also invited speakers such as actor Patrick Dempsey and memoirist Kenny Fries, who each gave a different perspective on how living with a disability can be significantly different from how it is perceived by the general population.
This year, DASA relied on social media for much of their programming.
“[We’re looking for] people to make a design, and it’s going to be printed on stickers and buttons that will be handed out next semester,” Carrillo said in a Zoom interview with the Orient. “And it’ll also be turned into a little sticker that can be used on Instagram stories, and it’ll stay there forever. Being funded by BSG, the first two prizes are sweatshirts from the Bowdoin store. The third prize is a hat.”
DASA planned to announce a winner for the contest on Bowdoin’s Instagram account on Thursday, but the winner had not been announced by this morning.
Carrillo will also be hosting a takeover on the Bowdoin Instagram account for the day.
“There will be some cool information for students to learn and some little polls, like quiz type things,” Carrillo said. “Just [so people can] learn about different facts, people with disabilities or find some awesome people to follow who are disability activists, things like that. And so we’re just really trying to get information out there in a way that students can reach it but not feel overwhelmed.”
Carrillo explained how her own experiences as a disabled person led her to this organization and eventually ignited her passion for campuswide events such as the one being hosted for IDPD.
“So I’m disabled, I use a wheelchair. I have cerebral palsy. And I went to DASA because it, at least last year, was a really nice supportive group for me to go to and just talk to other students about our disabilities and how we’ve dealt with the struggles that we experienced on campus,” Carrillo said. “This year, I became co-leader. And so we’re just trying to expand what we do on campus.”
Carrillo also spoke about her desire to do more with the club and bring even those who don’t identify as disabled into DASA.
“We have also opened up the club to students who aren’t disabled because, for the most part, it was kind of like disabled students talking about their disabilities and experiences to one another,” Carrillo said. “We wanted to open it up so that students who aren’t disabled have a place to learn about disabilities.”