A Decorah High School student and two Luther students will comprise a panel of speakers at Luther College's "Celebrate Ability" on disability awareness day, Wednesday, April 17.

Student speakers include Lydia Dawley, Decorah High School student; Shannon Koenders, Luther senior and Chris Norton, Luther junior.

The day's events will take place on the Luther campus and begin at 12:30 p.m. in the Dahl Centennial Union with a "Wheel of Ability" game, a spinoff of the popular "Wheel of Fortune" television game show. Prizes will be awarded for correct answers and participants can register for a grand prize raffle drawing that will take place in the Union at the conclusion of the game.

The awareness day includes creative games and a panel of speakers to facilitate learning and dialogue about disability myths and what we can do to create a more inclusive culture for those living with disabilities.

There will also be an online petition available for participants to sign in the Union, pledging to remove the word retard, also known as the "R word," from their everyday vocabulary.

All events for the awareness day are open to the public with no charge for admission.



Student panel

The members of the student panel will discuss their personal experiences with disabilities from 7-8 p.m. in Valders Hall of Science, Room 206.

Dawley, a local high school student with cerebral palsy, will speak about the challenges she has faced living with her disability. Dawley uses a speech assistance device to help her communicate. With the help of her device, Dawley will provide examples of the things she has learned to overcome as a student with a disability in our current public education system.

Koenders will give a presentation on the growing concerns surrounding the use of the "R word" and how we can work to proactively eliminate the negative use of that word in our everyday lives.

Norton, a Luther football player who suffered a neck and spinal cord injury during a football game his freshman year, will speak about how his life has changed since his injury, the rehabilitation he has gone through and how he is using his foundation, Spinal Cord Injury (SCI) CAN, to support disabled persons in the Decorah community and beyond. For more information about the SCI CAN project, visit: luther.edu/scican/.