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Students with disabilities display vision, strength and artistic expression

By Hannah Simpson
Senior Staff Writer

UNCP hosted a day for VSA Arts on Oct. 4 for schools in Robeson County and the surrounding areas.

VSA, Vision, Strength and Artistic expression, is an arts organization that encourages those with disabilities to become involved in the arts. VSA is hosted annually by UNCP.            

The event offers opportunities for students to learn about different disabilities and how to live with and around them.

The day was filled with performances, guest speakers and arts and crafts that related to disabilities as well as Indian heritage.
“Part of the purpose for us is to get them thinking I can do this,” said Dorothy Wells, assistant director for UNCP’s Disability Support Services. “College is an option.”

Several speakers presented their stories of living with disabilities to the many visiting students at the event.            

Fiona Page, professional speaker and storyteller, spoke to elementary students about the struggles of being blind. Page became blind in 1987 following a surgery.

 “Shortly after I became blind, life was an adventure,” Page said.            

She spoke about trying to learn to cook, dance and take karate lessons without sight.

“My son said, ‘Momma, you couldn’t cook when you could see. What makes you think you’ll be able to do it now?”’ Page told the children, before relating that she cooked the butcher knife in her first meal of lasagna.            

“I can do anything I want too,” said Page. “I just have to pay attention, believe I can and be the best I can be.”

She urged the children to not be afraid of challenges in life and to never give up.            

Other speakers included Ms. Wheelchair NC, Kelly Woodall; Alan Chase, president of UNCP’s Disabled Student Organization (DSO); Samantha Garrison and Leila Mayer, also members of DSO.

The class of Introduction to Sign Language interpreted two songs for high school students.            

The class signed to the prologue and theme song of “Beauty and the Beast” and “Don’t Laugh at Me” by Mark Wills.

Kelly Cheek, professor of the signing class, said that Wills’ song was chosen “because of the universal theme. ‘We are all the same.’”            

Cheek said that the event was meant “to teach (disabled students) what they can do.”

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Updated: Sunday, November 5, 2006
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