“You would not believe the number of people who have started calling me ‘sweetie’ or ‘honey’ since being in a wheelchair,” Ferris assistant professor of social work and director Katheryn Woods said.
Woods was one of the three speakers at Ferris’ Disability Debunked event, held on Tuesday, Oct. 31 to wrap up Disability Awareness Month.
“Every year, Disability Awareness Month happens. We, as a university, wanted to do something to start a conversation. It was important to us that we host events that are enjoyable but open to discussing the issues,” Ferris administrative assistant at the president’s office and Chair of the Planning Committee Maggie Walcott said.
“Defining Disability has so much to do with the boxes people put us in. Being in a wheelchair has been an enlightening experience. People insist on providing assistance that I do not need,” Woods said. “When we consider the concept of disability, we need to broaden our thinking. I think before we can define disability, we need to ask the people with disabilities.”
Ferris has a number of students who struggle with disabilities—something Ferris sophomore Montana Dalman has struggled with since she was 13 years old.
“When I was diagnosed, I was playing softball for seven years. I noticed my leg getting larger and larger and my family thought it was my muscles growing. My mom took me to a doctor and the doctors had no idea what was wrong with me. They did a biopsy and it turned out I had a volleyball-sized tumor on my leg,” Dalman said. “We did seven rounds of aggressive chemotherapy, so aggressive that other doctors who came in wondered if it was too much. I had a choice to amputate my leg or keep it but it was really no choice. If I kept it, I would never be able to run, walk or kick a ball again.”
Through eighth to tenth grade, Dalman went through surgeries including a broken hip, a relapse in her lung and a bone marrow transplant. Healthy now, she doesn’t let her disability keep her from enjoying activities such as rock climbing.
“If I’m more active, that is more that I can do with my friends and my boyfriend. Coming to Ferris, people were pretty accepting. But you’re always gonna have horrible people,” Dalman said.
Dalman wants to encourage people to treat her like a normal person and never hesitate if you’re curious.
“If I need help, I’ll ask for help. And if people have questions, don’t be afraid to ask,” Dalman said.
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