On the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater campus, we have hundreds of different outstanding organizations: from political groups to volunteering non-profits. This week for the Dec. 3 International Day of Disabled Persons, a particular organization on campus shines through. The spotlight this week is focused on DREAM, which stands for Disability Rights, Education, Activism, and Mentoring.
As an organization, their mission is to “raise awareness and advocate for individuals with disabilities through campus and community service. We create a safe and welcoming atmosphere for all individuals. We are a family.” DREAM hopes to advance the overall interest of students with disabilities in institutions across the United States whilst also bringing increasing awareness to those with disabilities within the UW-W community. Having an organization such as DREAM on campus is extremely important because the number of students with disabilities served on the UW-Whitewater campus is higher than at any other comprehensive institution within the state of Wisconsin. As a whole UW-W makes it a top priority to create inclusivity and accessibility in every aspect for those who visit campus.
“DREAM is an important organization on campus because we advocate for an inclusive community of all students. We want everyone to enjoy their time while at UW-Whitewater, and we want to help ensure that happens,” said secretary of DREAM Alexis Koenig.
As a result of the recent pandemic, a lot has changed for DREAM. It too had figure out how to continue effectively online.
“I try to get as many guest speakers and student presenters as possible for our meetings to bring a wide variety of voices and perspectives into the mix. This has been helpful in keeping our students engaged! We’ve also had to come up with new ideas to continue fostering a sense of community in a time where we can’t see one another face to face. We’ve done this mainly through creating group chats and social media outreach,” said president Alissa Mautz.
Despite the pandemic the organization has still strongly maintained their platform and tackled the new challenges. Not everything always goes as planned, but members are grateful for those that take the time out of their day to show up every week.
“Some people involved in the organization, as well as guest speakers, had to become more aware of how to use Zoom,” vice president Scott Schoeller said.
Overall DREAM as an organization has stayed strong, although the world around it changed significantly within the past few months. The organization still maintains weekly meetings even if that means coming at it from a different angle. DREAM still passionately fights to bring awareness to disabilities on campus with their most recent meeting Nov. 18 highlighting Alzheimer’s Disease to honor November as Alzheimer’s Awareness Month. DREAM continues to be open to everyone. Although a large portion of members in DREAM do have some form of a disability the organization is accepting of every person regardless of a disability or not.
“I want people to understand that disability is not a limitation. People with disabilities make amazing contributions to society every single day. Many of our members (including myself) have disabilities, and their unique perspectives and experiences are imperative in making our organization as successful as it is. We value disability pride, which is a component that lots of folks tend to forget about. Disability isn’t something to be ashamed of, but something to celebrate!” said Mautz.
If you would like to become a member of DREAM, they now meet online every Wednesday at 6 p.m. You can check out their Facebook page at DREAM UWW and their Instagram at UWW_DREAM.