Embracing Diversity: Illuminating Abilities on International Day of People with Disabilities at Mount St. Dominic

Embracing Diversity: Illuminating Abilities on International Day of People with Disabilities at Mount St. Dominic

The Mount is dedicated to empowering students in various ways, and one distinctive approach involves student-led assemblies supported by a faculty mentor. These meticulously planned gatherings consistently feature compelling speakers.

On December 1st, Mount St. Dominic hosted a remarkable all-school assembly for International Day of People with Disabilities (IDPD). Ms. GinaMarie Correia and sign language interpreter Mrs. Monica Rodriguez Nativo graced the event, aligning with this year's IDPD theme of "United in action to rescue and achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) for, with, and by persons with disabilities." This day seeks to enhance understanding of disability issues, garner support for the rights of persons with disabilities, and raise awareness about their integration into all facets of life.

Ms. Correia, a deaf speaker, shared her daily challenges and advocated for inclusivity. She shed light on the limitations of the NJ ADA law while expressing hope for its future strengthening. Ms. Correia’s engaging discourse, humorously delivered and expertly interpreted by Mrs. Rodriguez Nativo, emphasized that her identity surpasses her disability. Ms. Correia urged the audience not to perceive her as a disability but as someone with diverse abilities, noting that the only thing she cannot do is hear.

The assembly also featured Mount students Gabriella Lipari '25 (co-president, ASL club); Samantha Giampapa '25 (secretary, ASL club); Samantha Fio Rito '25; and Grace Baron '25 who discussed various disabilities, spanning physical, invisible, visual/hearing, and developmental categories. They shared insights into celebrities with disabilities and articulated the everyday challenges faced by individuals with diverse abilities.

The students also delved into the "Curb Effect," illustrating how innovations designed for individuals with disabilities, such as text-to-speech software and closed captioning, benefit a broader population.

Regina Salandra '25 highlighted her friend's experience with Friedreich's ataxia, emphasizing challenges such as limited accessibility to handicapped beach wheelchairs. Regina's advocacy efforts for The Friedreich's Ataxia Research Alliance (FARA) were also showcased. Juliana Marra '25 shared her deep admiration for her brother with Down Syndrome.

In conclusion, the International Day of People with Disabilities assembly at Mount St. Dominic, emphasized the diverse abilities that define individuals beyond their disabilities. Ms. GinaMarie Correia's talk and the stories of Mount students highlighted the importance of inclusivity and understanding in our community. The event not only raised awareness about the challenges faced by individuals with disabilities but also inspired a commitment to fostering a more inclusive environment. By sharing personal stories and showcasing the broader impact of innovations like the "Curb Effect," the assembly encouraged a shift in perspective, recognizing that accessibility enhancements designed for specific needs can benefit society at large. Mount St. Dominic's dedication to empowering students through impactful assemblies demonstrates the institution's commitment to holistic education, fostering a more compassionate and understanding community where diversity is celebrated, and inclusivity is a shared commitment.

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