Disabled Rights Group DREAM Acknowledges DCCC Chapter

Matt Aukamp, Senior Communitarian Reporter

DREAM, a national disabled rights organization, has officially acknowledged a new chapter at Delaware County Community College. The group is now looking to expand its influence and advocacy at the college by developing into a full club.

DREAM, which stands for Disability Rights, Education, Activism and Mentoring, is a national advocacy organization focused on the rights and experiences of post-secondary students with disabilities. 

The DCCC chapter of DREAM will include creating a network of support, education, and resources for students with disabilities, as well as promoting advocacy for student’s rights and accommodations.

This effort is being spearheaded by student leader Jonathan Atiencia. After spending five years at Temple University, Atiencia brought his own proposal and constitution to the community college when he enrolled last year.

“I want educate people and to show the DCCC Community that if I can be a disability advocate, you can too.” Atiencia is a firm believer that the more disability advocates he can help create, the more people there will be to “help guide people through their journey and show people that they won’t be alone or struggling at school.”

Simone Richardson, Director of Disability Services, encourages students, staff, and faculty to help spread the word about the group to those who need to hear it. “The goal here is to get more students.” 

The group will need a minimum of eight members to be recognized by the college as an official club and will seek students to fulfill crucial roles such as treasurer and vice president. One of the major struggles is getting students to self-identify with a disability and identify their own needs. 

“If a student doesn’t acknowledge certain conditions as a disability, they won’t be likely to register,” Richardson said. Temporary conditions such as broken bones, a pregnancy or common psychological conditions that last more than six months such as depression or anxiety can qualify a person for disability services. 

“They may not even want to because they feel like the term disability has this look,” Richardson said of the stigma which keeps applicable students from registering, “Disability is not a uniform thing. So, we really hope to eliminate that stigma and let people know that we are here to support, encourage, embrace, and promote.”

Richardson is calling on faculty to not only demonstrate that they are advocates and supports, but educate themselves. “The more you know, the more you grow.”

Founded in 2011, DREAM began as an email discussion board between student disability groups at various colleges. Since opening its DREAM Chapters and Affiliates program in 2017, the organization has connected nearly 60 different post-secondary educational institutions. 

Students interested in getting involved with the DCCC chapter of DREAM can contact the Office of Disability Services or the Athletics & Campus Engagement Office to inquire about an interest form.

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