Disability Awareness Symposium begins today

Symposium aims to create accessibility in sports, destigmatize disability at WSU


“That’s really important for people to learn, develop and hear from people like myself who have a disability who can talk about [their] experience,” said Ryan Chalmers, Stay-Focused director and symposium guest speaker.

ANDREA GONZALEZ, Evergreen reporter

The third WSU Annual Disability Awareness Symposium, Fitness For All: Inclusive Fitness and Sport, begins today.

The WSU Access Center, Disabled Students and Allies Club, and University Recreation host the symposium, which runs until April 2, said Davi Kallman, Access Center awareness coordinator and access adviser. 

Individuals can attend 17 different events throughout the week. Events are a combination of physical fitness, mental wellness and well-being workshops, she said. 

Kallman said attendees may also join presentations focusing on mindfulness, disability and intersectionality related to accessibility in sports. 

Creating disability awareness events not only helps destigmatize disability at WSU but also helps people understand there are support services for students with disabilities on campus, she said. 

UREC will host a series of adaptive fitness classes like yoga, weight lifting, rock climbing and spin. Kallman said the symposium shows people sport and fitness apply to everyone. 

“We’re really trying to hit home with that,” she said. “The aim is that fitness and sport is for everyone and that there are ways to include everyone in the design of sports and fitness.”

The first opening event, HeArt and Mind, will take place from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. today.

HeArt and Mind will feature works from 19 artists and focus on self-love and mindfulness. Artists will explain what their art means to them and how it contributes to self-love, she said.

Ryan Chalmers, Stay-Focused director, will speak from 11 a.m. to noon on April 1 via Zoom, according to the symposium website. 

Chalmers started working for Stay-Focused at 15 years old. The organization helps teens and young adults with disabilities learn how to scuba dive in the Cayman Islands. Participants also have the option to become certified divers, he said.  

Chalmers said he always liked trying new and adventurous things and the opportunity to scuba dive sounded cool to his 15-year-old self. Scuba diving became his passion, and through his work, Chalmers said he can impact people’s lives in the same way Stay-Focused impacted his.

“That’s really important for people to learn, develop and hear from people like myself who have a disability who can talk about [their] experience,” he said. 

Wesley Hamilton, executive director of Disabled But Not Really, is the keynote speaker for a disability and intersectionality panel April 2, Kallman said. 

“He has created this fitness realm for other people who have spinal cord injury,” she said, “letting them know that just because they have a disability does not mean that they cannot contribute in sports and fitness.”

People can register for events on the symposium website. While registering, individuals can select any accommodations they may need, she said.