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The campaign banner hangs over members of the Disabled Student Cultural Center: Sam Lewis, Courtney Miller, John Lukanen, Richard Jorgenson and Julie Trachy.

University photographer Pat O'Leary takes a picture of the campaign banner hanging over members of the Disabled Student Cultural Center: left to right, Sam Lewis, Courtney Miller, John Lukanen, Richard Jorgenson, and Julie Trachy.

Disabled Student Cultural Center launches awareness campaign

By Bob San

Published on April 18, 2005

University of Minnesota senior Sam Lewis has dyslexia, a learning disability. But he had a hard time convincing professors and fellow students he is disabled.

This week, Lewis and fellow members of the Disabled Student Cultural Center (DSCC) on the Twin Cities campus are launching a SEE 3 campaign to raise awareness for students with disabilities. The DSCC has made two giant banners--one hanging from Northrop Auditorium facing Coffman Union, and another on Church Street in front of Murphy Hall. The banners read: SEE 3, See Ability, See Disability, See Me.

"What we are saying is, 'See my ability, see my disability, and also see me as who I am and what I can do,'" says DSCC president John Lukanen of the banner. "Don't see us just for our disabilities, see us as people and for what we can do."

"Disability is part of us and it's not something we ignore," Lewis adds. "Sure, John is blind and you can see that, but don't let that be the only thing you see."

Lukanen and Lewis said the banner, which will be hung until April 22, is part of a yearlong campaign to raise awareness for disabilities and the DSCC. On April 29, DSCC will host wheelchair soccer and basketball tournaments at the Rec Center. All students and staff are invited to participate. Next fall, DSCC will launch another awareness campaign.

"We want to increase awareness that there are plenty of students with disabilities and that we are a vital piece of this campus," Lukanen says. "We also want to acknowledge that the DSCC does exist on this campus and is a great resource. We are the only Disabled Student Cultural Center in the Big Ten."

Lukanen says there are 840 registered students with disabilities on campus, but the number could be much higher. Their disabilities range from those using wheelchairs and walkers to those with visual, hearing, systemic, psychological, mental, and learning disabilities.