DisABILITY event brings attention to disability struggles, frustrations


Calla Reynolds, Asst. Editorial Editor

On Dec. 8 and 9, Ms. Kennedy Carnahan, the life skills teacher for students with special needs, and her life skills class hosted a “disABILITY” event in the gymnasium. The event highlighted the everyday struggles faced by people who have physical or intellectual disabilities. 

Disabilities lie on a complex spectrum. According to the National Library of Medicine (NLM), the disability spectrum “encompasses a diverse group of interrelated disorders with multiple manifestations resulting from brain dysfunction.” Being on this spectrum does not imply that someone is incapable of doing something, but rather they identify how to complete a task based upon their specific needs and capabilities. In other words, find their ability in their disability. Carnahan aimed to highlight the ability in disability for the disABILITY event. 

The event itself established four different stations; a physical, learning, speech and visual station. The physical station allowed the high schoolers to understand the challenges that come with limited mobility in their fingers. Students placed socks over their hands and either attempted to layer beads on a string or open a jar with a single hand. In the learning station, students were set to face a reading comprehension obstacle. There were three pieces of paper with individual reading challenges; a stroop effect test, reading comprehension with dyslexia and reading a foreign language. For the speech and visual stations, students were placed in situations where they could not communicate verbally or had to follow directions without seeing what they were physically doing. 

Since most people who attend the Freedom Area School District do not live or usually interact with individuals who have disabilities, the disABILITY event provided an opportunity for students to develop an understanding of what their neurodivergent peers experience. 

“My biggest takeaway from the event was learning how the kids with disabilities see the world and how hard life can be for them,” freshman Seanna Conklin said. 

Conklin and her English class participated in the event on Dec. 8, the class being one of the first to have the experience. 

“Overall it was a really good experience,” added Conklin, “I think a lot of people could learn from it and apply it to their lives in the future.”

Shortly after the event came to a close on Dec. 9, Carnahan looked back on the student-perception and general outcome of the occasion.

“I hope [the students] can gain some kind of understanding and awareness of what other people – who they can interact with on a daily basis – go through,” said Carnahan, “and to understand the frustrations they are feeling; to take away a lot of positive notes from it.”