Ben Eder

Diversity Activities

-Describe your involvement in promoting diversity in your community or school, or experiences that have given you an opportunity to become aquatinted with cultures other than your own.

When the words culture and diversity are mentioned, most of us think of peoples in other countries, of different races, or possibly of alternate socio-economic groups. In the last four years I have traveled to both Israel and Venezuela and have had the opportunity to be exposed to both these cultures. When speaking of diversity, rarley do we think of a subset of our own society, the handicapped population. Until recently I have chosen, like many Americans, to avoid this group of people and not think about them. While I was exposed to individuals with disabilities at school, I never felt comfortable around them. Knowing my appreciation for community service, a friend told me about a grant opportunity to help with the integration of the disabled into mainstream society.

I went with him to a meeting and helped to organize a group of youths and adults that would put on a one day art program for the disabled. I was named Youth Project Coordinator, and began organizing for the event. We conservatively project at least 150 participants that will attend our event named Art Works Festival ‘97. We plan for local artists to teach different crafts to groups of disabled individuals. The groups will rotate to different workshops when they are done and will be assisted by volunteers. It is an objective of the project to provide access to the handicapped community, remove stereotypes, and to raise community awareness to the value of integration and diversity.

It is my since desire that this experience will continue to help me better understand this segment of our society. I also hope to help others appreciate this sub-culture that so desperately wants to be mainstream, but at the same time celebrate their diversity.