The David Garcia Project puts disabilities into perspective


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Simulation participants try to read various signs and walk through the building while wearing googles to get a sense of what getting around is like with visual impairments on Feb. 1 in the Bovee University Center.

A group of 15 students sat around the edge of a large room, frustrated as they tried to read a newspaper article printed backwards in a mirror.

The David Garcia Project session had begun.

The workshop is put on by the Mary Ellen Volunteer Center last night in the University Bovee Center. The open sessions are held several times throughout fall and spring semester. The sessions allow students to participate in simulations of what it is like to have a physical, visual, auditory, learning or psychological disability.

“This is the first diversity event I’ve been to this year and I would definitely do it again,” Rochester Hills sophomore Tyler Goschnick said. “It really opened my eyes to the physical complications that someone with a disability would go through.”

The session focused on dyslexia, arthritis, hearing loss and different levels of blindness. For the arthritis activity, students were handed gardening gloves and instructed to do fine-motor tasks like buttoning up a shirt and tracing the outline of a star.

Once the arthritis activity ended, the workshop continued with a game of telephone. Each person wore a set of earplugs while being told the message meant to be passed on. It showcased the difficulties that come with different levels of hearing loss.

The discussions in between each activity allowed students to share their thoughts and how they felt during and after each activity. 

“This was very eye-opening for me,” Jerome Sophomore Dakota Yeaster said. “My father suffers from three of the four disabilities that we covered today. I usually make fun of him for it and call him old and don’t have any patience for it. I feel bad now and I really feel like I learned a lot about these disabilities tonight.”

The evening finished with a walk around the University Center. Each participant wore goggles with different amounts of black tape to simulate different levels of blindness. Many students gave up on the tasks they were given almost immediately.

“It really brings on a lot of anxiety. I makes me glad that I am lucky enough to have all the stability I do," said Woodhaven junior Laura Tracy, a facilitator of the DGP. "I can’t imagine living like that all the time.” 

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