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Photographer: George E. Mauzy Jr.


Keynote speaker J.W. Smith gives tips to the audience on how to treat people with disabilities

Photographer: George E. Mauzy Jr.

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Challenged by Choice creates awareness of disabilities in community

Members of the Athens and Ohio University communities will have the opportunity to experience living life with a disability through the annual event, "Challenged by Choice," which will take place from noon to 8:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 19.

The event is sponsored by the Athens County Commission on Disabilities.

This program is designed for participants to experience what it is like to complete daily work tasks as a person with physical or mental disabilities would. Participants have the options of simulating the difficulties of diabetes, a communication disorder, mental illness, Parkinson's disease or cognitive delay. There is a broad range of requirements for the simulations, including: hearing voices through a taped recording (schizophrenia), simulated pin pricking (diabetes), and repeated stuttering and stammering (communication disorders). This also allows community members to discuss solutions for how to compensate for those with disabilities in school and work settings.

Confirmed participants for this event include: Pat Lang, David Cone, Jenny Nelson, David Hartinger, Jenny-Hall Jones, Charlie Atkins, William Peacock, and Andy Linbaugh. In addition, five university students will take on a disability, as a way to conduct research for Nelson's Research Methods class in the Media Arts and Studies program.

"It is my hope that each of us who accept a disability will be aware of the frustrations, obstacles, limitations and accommodation needs of persons with disability," said Larry Jageman, co-chair of "Challenged by Choice".

The schedule for this event is as follows:

Noon – Orientation at Ponderosa
Those accepting the challenge will meet at the Ponderosa Restaurant on East State Street for lunch and an orientation to the disability simulations.

Between 1 and 5 p.m. – "Challenged by Choice"
The participants will carry out their afternoon responsibilities at work, in the community, and at school, with the complications of their disability. In some instances, Ohio University students majoring in related professions will assist where needed.

From 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. – "Disability Speaks" at the Athens Community Center
Pizza and refreshments begin at 6:30 p.m., followed by a Disabilities Speaks panel at 7 p.m. moderated by Carolyn Lewis, a member of the Commission. Those who were challenged will describe their experiences and service agencies will provide information tables. Jason Jolley will keynote the evening.

Jolley is an assistant professor of rural and economic development in the Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Affairs. He is the father of three special needs children, so he is no stranger to the day-to-day struggles of having a disabled loved one.  

The "Disability Speaks" portion of the evening is free, and open to the public. Anyone with questions or an interest in this event should contact Larry Jageman at or 740-592-2123.

"This is about us learning to be a better person, a better neighbor, a better friend. These stories that are told elevate my anxiety, elevate my feelings to bring a tear, elevate my thinking, and elevate my hope," said Jageman.