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Pepperdine to Host Multiple Student-Organized Events in Recognition of Disability Awareness Week

Logo for Disability Awareness Week 2023

March 13 through 17 will mark Pepperdine’s fourth annual Disability Awareness Week, a student-organized and student-staffed event designed to inform the campus community about disability issues, to create a sense of disability pride, and to articulate meaningful actions for students with disabilities that go beyond the week’s activities. 

“The Office of Student Accessibility is delighted to join with the Seaver College Student Government Association, the Office of Community Engagement and Service, and the graduate schools to observe Disability Awareness Week,” says Sandra Harrison (MS ’13), executive director of the Office of Student Accessibility. “Creating accessibility starts with knowing the need. Disability Awareness Week has been a good way for the Pepperdine community to hear about the experiences of our students and colleagues with disabilities. We are grateful to the students for producing this week of events to help us learn how our classrooms, events, and the Pepperdine experience can be more accessible.”

Maddie Beadle, this year’s lead student organizer for Disability Awareness Week, is a third-year student at Seaver College majoring in political science with a minor in social work. She has hypermobile Ehlers-Danlos syndrome as well as postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome. As a student with a disability, Beadle understands why awareness is so important. “As disabled people, it’s important to remind the rest of the Pepperdine community that we have pride, that we belong, and that we matter just as much as everyone else,” she says. In addition to those with more noticeable physical and mobility disabilities, “there are so many people with invisible disabilities,” she notes. 

The entire University community is invited to participate in the following Disability Awareness Week events:

Information Tabling
Monday, March 13; Tuesday, March 14; Thursday, March 16 | 10 AM to 2 PM | Mullin Town Square/Joslyn Plaza
Wednesday, March 15 | 10 AM to 2 PM | Caruso School of Law Atrium
Friday, March 17 | 10 AM to 2 PM | Alumni Park and Mullin Town Square/Joslyn Plaza
Stop by to learn more about common disabilities and pick up a free awareness cookie. These cookies will be color-coded according to the support color corresponding to a medical condition and will come with an informational handout. The awareness cookies, provided by Maddy Bear Bakes, are gluten-free, vegan, and free of all top-eight allergens. 

The information tables will also feature a book giveaway. Titles will include Disability Visibility: First-Person Stories from the Twenty-First Century by Alice Wong, Disability and the Way of Jesus: Holistic Healing in the Gospels and the Church by Bethany McKinney Fox, Care Work: Dreaming Disability Justice by Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha, Being Heumann: An Unrepentant Memoir of a Disability Rights Activist by Judith Heumann and Kristen Joiner, The Electricity of Every Living Thing: A Woman’s Walk in the Wild to Find Her Way Home by Katherine May, and Different, Not Less: A Neurodivergent’s Guide to Embracing Your True Self and Finding Your Happily Ever After by Chloé Hayden. The cookie and book giveaways are sponsored by the Seaver Student Success Center.

In addition, the Pepperdine Libraries Genesis Lab makerspace will make its 3D printers available to allow participants to design their own small mobility aid or device to assist with daily tasks.

Presentation: Overcoming the Fear of Public Speaking
Monday, March 13 | 12:40 PM to 1:30 PM | Caruso Classroom D and Virtual
Join a discussion with the Caruso School of Law Moot Court Team and Trial Team about overcoming stage fright and the fear of public speaking through the lens of disability. Virtual participation will be available.

Speaker: Leroy Moore 
Monday, March 13 | 5 PM to 6:30 PM | Black Family Plaza Classrooms Room 191 and Virtual
Leroy Moore is a professional speaker, dancer, writer, and community activist with a physical disability. He is the founder of Krip-Hop Nation, an organization that educates the music and media industries, as well as the general public, about the talents, history, rights, and marketability of hip-hop artists and other musicians with disabilities. In this interactive session, attendees will hear more about Moore’s work and will be led in creative activities to explore the themes presented.

Dinner will be provided by Mendocino Farms for registered participants, with a limit of 30 people. Virtual participation will be available as well. This event is sponsored by the Office of Student Accessibility.

Self-Advocacy Workshop
Tuesday, March 14 | 6 PM to 8 PM | Howard A. White Center Intercultural Affairs (ICA) Lounge and Virtual
Chad Iwertz Duffy (’08), assistant professor of English and director of Pepperdine’s Social Action and Justice Program will share how people with disabilities can better articulate their access needs to request services and support. This interactive workshop will inform community members on ways they can practice self-advocacy through collaborative community formation, strategic planning, and collective action. Refreshments will be provided, and registration is limited to 40 participants. Virtual participation will be available. This event is sponsored by the Office of Student Accessibility.

Screening of Crip Camp: A Disability Revolution and Panel Discussion
Wednesday, March 15 | 6:30 PM to 9:30 PM | Elkins Auditorium and Virtual
Enjoy a viewing of the 2020 documentary film, Crip Camp: A Disability Revolution. Written and directed by James Lebrecht and Nicole Newnham, this film chronicles the true story of a group of teens with disabilities who met at a summer camp.

A panel discussion will follow the screening, featuring Jasmine “Jaz” Gray, assistant professor of communication studies; Tomas Martinez, professor of psychology; and Mackenzie Mazen (’21, MBA ’21), the alumna who originally created Disability Awareness Week at Pepperdine, to draw attention to the needs of the disabled members of the community. Registration is not required. Virtual participation will be available.

Solidarity Day
Thursday, March 16 | Throughout All Pepperdine Campuses
Take this opportunity to use the accessible options on any of Pepperdine’s campuses and gain greater understanding of what navigating the University’s accessible paths is really like. 

American Sign Language (ASL) Class
Thursday, March 16 | 4 PM to 5 PM | Black Family Plaza Classrooms Room 188 and Virtual
Mimi Dao, resident director in the Office of Housing and Residence Life, will lead an introductory workshop that provides background and context on ASL, along with instruction on the ASL alphabet and basic vocabulary. Space is limited and virtual participation will be available.

Panel Discussion: Accommodation and Accessibility in the Workplace
Thursday, March 16 | 6 PM to 8 PM | Appleby Center Room 286
Join this interactive discussion about disability in the workplace. Elizabeth Pode, disability activist and career coach at the Graziadio Business School, will speak on navigating job interviews and other workplace issues through the lens of disability. This event will be useful to anyone in the career-planning and career-exploration process. Registration is not required. 

Accessible Yoga Class 
Friday, March 17 | 2:30 PM to 4 PM | Alumni Park
Participate in a therapeutic and accessible yoga practice made for all bodies, led by professional yoga instructor Amisha Stanley. This event is sponsored by the Student Wellness Advisory Board.

Presentation: Neurodiversity 101 
Friday, March 17 | 5 PM to 6 PM | Black Family Plaza Classrooms Room 188 and Virtual
Thalia Markowski, secretary of the Pepperdine Neurodiversity Association, will share helpful information about neurodiversity, a term for the idea that people perceive, experience, and interact with the world around them in many different ways. Drawing from her own experience as a neurodivergent woman of color, Markowski will provide insight into intersectionality in a diverse world. Topics will include what it means to be neurodivergent, person-first versus identity-first language, the value of using neurologically inclusive language, and how to create sensory-safe spaces. Virtual participation will be available.