Imperial Valley College Journalism

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Imperial Valley College Disability Awareness Day

By Paola Villaescusa
IMPERIAL, Calif.–Antonio Sanchez strolls through the rows of booths, jumpers, and other services set up for Disability Awareness Day at Imperial Valley College with a wide grin on his face.

“I just got a balloon wrapped around my hat by the clowns,” he says, laughing. “I’m having a lot of fun today.”

“Fun” is a good word to describe the awareness day. This year’s events included a petting zoo, several jumpers, a small train, and a talent show for disabled students hosted by Joe Gandelman, a comedian ventriloquist. The fair in the afternoon focuses on the transition from the K-12 system to college, and showcases various services provided to help students with their education and careers.

“Our goal is to raise awareness of the services provided that help disabled students go to college and live productive lives,” says Ted Ceasar, Associate Dean of IVC’s Disabled Student Programs & Services. “Having a disability is not a barrier to getting a college education.”

This year marks the 37th anniversary of Disability Awareness Day at IVC. The transition fair is a recent addition, celebrating its third anniversary this year. What started out as a faculty awareness workshop grew into a community event supported by donations and sponsorships from such agencies as Imperial Valley’s Special Education Local Plan Area, or SELPA. (Story continues below slideshow.)

Listen to Ted Ceasar, Associate Dean of IVC’s Disabled Student Programs & Services:
More than 35 agencies from Imperial and San Diego counties set up informational booths, all of which are geared towards helping developmentally disabled people. Agencies such as Deaf Community Services of San Diego, Inc., Autism Support of Imperial County, and the Exceptional Family Resource Center assist students and parents with areas such as independent living, employment options and general health issues.

“IVC is one of the only community colleges that holds events like these,” says Ceasar. “It showcases the various services on hand to help disabled students while also giving students the opportunity to interact and socialize.”

Socializing is as big a part of Disability Awareness Day as the services provided.

“We invite special and regular education K-12 students from all over the valley to come and participate,” says Maria Neely, a counselor for IVC Disabled Student Programs & Services. “There’s a lot of things for the kids to have fun with and interact with each other.”

For Antonio Sanchez, it is clear that IVC Disabled Student Programs & Services is doing a good job with the day’s events. As a deaf man and communications assistant for deaf and mute students at IVC, he credits the services provided by IVC in helping him find his job. He also enjoys the events and performances of the day.

“It’s great what they’re doing with Disability Awareness Day. It’s important to me because people get to learn,” Sanchez says, using sign language. “And it’s a social event where disabled people get to interact and have fun.”

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