“Even when the day doesn’t go according to plan, I’ve adapted a ‘roll with the punches’ mentality.”
This is the attitude that has gotten Peter Lohr, a graduate student with Cerebral Palsy, through difficult times of his life.
Lohr was diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy at birth. Cerebral Palsy is a physical disability that affects an individual’s motor skills.
Lohr developed the disability because of a lack of oxygen provided to the left side of his brain, which affects his motor skills including walking and writing.
Lohr, who is in his second year of graduate school at UW-Whitewater, is studying counselor education with an emphasis in community.
Every day, Lohr wakes up and gets ready for the day with the help of a care-worker. Lohr said his care-workers help him shower, get dressed, eat and prepare for the day.
After he gets ready, Lohr said he goes to the campus library to do homework. Because Lohr’s classes are mainly in the evening, he said he spends most of his day working with the Disability Advocacy and Awareness Coalition, which acts as an advocate for students on campus with various disabilities.
Lohr says that one of his biggest struggles in daily life is scheduling. Every day, Lohr has to arrange his daily activities such as showering, changing and eating around the schedule of his care-worker.
“I don’t let mishaps or inconveniences in scheduling affect my positive attitude towards life, though,” Lohr said.
Lohr is currently the vice president of DAAC. DAAC’s mission is to ensure the campus is accessible for disabled students.
DAAC also provides members with educational and recreational programs such as guest speakers and wheelchair basketball tournaments. DAAC works with other organizations and projects on campus to guarantee that activities are accessible and available for disabled students.
Junior Andrew Brenes, one of Lohr’s closest friends, is the president of DAAC. Lohr and Brenes met in the Center for Students with Disabilities and have become best friends since.
“Peter has been a role model for a lot of students on campus,” Brenes said. “Even though he’s my best friend and we’re the same age, he inspires me.”
Both Lohr and Brenes said they feel UW-Whitewater does an extraordinary job accommodating for students with disabilities.
“They’re exceptional,” Brenes said. “Whitewater goes above and beyond what is required by the law to make sure disabled students and comfortable and accommodated.”
On campus, UW-Whitewater offers the CSD, which provides disabled students with one-on-one tutoring and labs with adaptive equipment. This equipment enables students to use technology to make completing homework assignments more convenient and suitable to their needs.
CSD also helps modify living conditions for students so that their rooms meet the specific needs of disabled students.
When it comes to living life fully and happily, it’s the power of laughter that keeps Lohr going.
“Humor is a good thing to have,” Lohr said. “It has helped me tremendously in many situations, especially the difficult ones.”
Lohr said he also wants students to know that it is okay to ask questions.
“We all fall victim to the discomfort because of unfamiliarity and lack of knowledge about disabilities,” Lohr said. “The key is to bring any questions to the forefront to eliminate any feelings of discomfort.”