|Students give back to help those with disabilities|
|Written by Kyle Deg, Daily Vidette Senior Staff|
|Monday, 21 March 2011 19:03|
Rachael Isaacson flips through the scrapbook and she smiles as each page turns. Pictures inside show the faces of people at parties and gatherings just having fun, and Isaacson gladly points out some of the people pictured.
A sophomore elementary education major, Isaacson is also the president of Students Serving Individuals with Disabilities, a registered student organization at ISU.
The main purpose of the group is to help people with disabilities or people that need a little extra care. Anyone with a disability is helped by the group and no one is ever turned away.
Isaacson has been a part of SSID for four semesters, and she takes part in the events the group hosts.
“One of our big events that we do in September is the Autism Run/Walk, and we raise a good amount of money for the Autism Society,” Isaacson said. “We also hold fall and spring dances where we have people from the Autism Society and others come dressed up and we have dances and games and crafts for them. We do a lot of hands-on work with them.”
Inside of the scrapbook were pictures of these events and members of SSID interacting and playing with those with disabilities.
At the fall dance, participants were clad in a wide range of costumes and were dancing and laughing. The members all try to get the people who attend involved as well in order to create a fun and caring environment.
While many groups at ISU just organize events, SSID actually has their members take part in the activities.
Christina Fallos, a sophomore special education major and a member of SSID, says one of the great things about the group is the ability to interact with people.
“With SSID I’m actually out there volunteering and being with the people who have come out to the events,” Fallos said. “We’ve had cheer and basketball camps, and we will even have a skydiving event. I’m actually out there and it’s fun to bring joy to people.”
Before and at the events, SSID takes donations and raises money for people with disabilities. All of the money they raise goes back to the organizations they are helping, like the Autism Society. SSID has also helped in the Central Illinois Down Syndrome Organization Buddy Walk in Bloomington.
“For our fundraisers, we take that money and we donate it to the cause or we use it to get something for them,” Isaacson said. “We have a fundraiser where we can get books about disabilities and then we donate them to a library or a school with children with disabilities so the parents and the kids can read more about it and become more informed.”
SSID is also currently working on a project that will hopefully help people be aware of some of the misconceptions about people with disabilities. In order to do this, SSID has started a petition to stop the use of the “R-word” (retarded) because of how hurtful the word can be.
Isaacson paused and refrained from even using the word when she talked about it.
“The petition is about ending the use of the R-word in derogatory ways,” Isaacson said. “A lot of people don’t like it, but there are families who prefer to use that word in its original purpose. As time goes on it is being used less and less appropriately and being used more inappropriately and in comedic ways to call someone stupid. When used the wrong way, it is negative and demeaning to people with disabilities.”
By helping people with disabilities, the members of SSID get much back in return. Seeing someone improve over a period of time is a great accomplishment for the members, and the joy they create is inspiring.
“It’s great getting to help and to see how excited the people get,” Fallos said. “When people keep coming back you grow relationships with them and you see how they can change and how you affect them in a positive way. We also see the parents and how much they appreciate what we do and it’s a great feeling.”
Isaacson has had many great moments during her time with SSID, but one stands out for her. When remembering her favorite moment, her eyes widened, a smile crept over her face, and she quickly responded with one memory.
“The other week when I was coaching basketball, there were these two twins and I am like in love with them, they are so cute,” she said. “And after basketball, one of them came up to me and he hugged me. Then the other brother came up and hugged me, and for his brother that is a big deal. It made me so happy and I couldn’t have asked for anything more.”
Isaacson met these two the first semester of last year, and she is even babysitting for them.
SSID gave Isaacson the chance to watch people grow over the course of her involvement and she has cultivated many relationships because of it.
The members of SSID are always helping people with needs, and say people shouldn’t always be so quick to judge.
“Just because people do things differently doesn’t mean they can’t do the things that you can do. They just do certain things differently and people can accept and realize that difference,” Fallos said.