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Cultural Calendar

Dear WMA Community,

We hope you are taking advantage of the start of summer wherever you might find yourselves! You are receiving the first of WMA’s Community & Belonging dedicated themes on our Cultural Calendar. The Cultural Calendar features topics dedicated to highlighting, educating and celebrating the diverse cultures and identities we honor at Wilbraham & Monson Academy. 

As a community, we strive to be as inclusive as possible while also recognizing there is so much happening around the globe that is joyful, painful and important. Although we cannot recognize every single perspective, we hope that by setting aside dedicated attention to an array of identities and cultures, we can learn about and celebrate that which ultimately connects us.

June, for example, is dedicated to Brain Health and Alzheimer’s Awareness Month. The C&B newsletter aims to educate, raise awareness about and showcase how to become more sensitive to populations who struggle with brain health, dementia and/or Alzheimer’s Disease. 

During the school year, we will hold special events such as student-driven educational workshops, field trips to local lectures, weekend activities to engage creatively with the monthly theme, and Lunch and Learn conversations for faculty and staff. All members of the Academy will be invited to participate if they choose. The Office of Community & Belonging is also open to feedback in order to help our incoming C&B student interns, who will be primarily responsible for organizing and executing the student-facing activities. 

Our campus appears to be quiet over the summer, but we are all very busy planning, preparing and looking forward to having each of you back with us in August. We are looking forward to a memorable fall with our WMA family.

All my best,

 

Sylvia Beato-Davis
Director of Community & Belonging

July 2024

July is Disability Pride Month

Honoring People with Disabilities and Raising Awareness about Ableism

 

Did You Know…?

A disability isn’t always visible. It refers to any condition of the body or mind that makes it more difficult for the person with the condition to do certain activities and interact with the world around them.

There are many types of disabilities, such as those that affect a person’s vision, movement, thinking, remembering, learning, communication, hearing, mental health and social relationships.

The purpose of Disability Pride Month is to build common understanding around ableism - the intentional or unintentional discrimination or prejudice against folks with disabilities - and to normalize joy, acceptance and confidence for individuals who live with disabilities. 

 

What are the Origins of Disability Pride?

President George H.W. Bush signed the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) on July 26, 1990, a landmark law that prohibited discrimination against people with disabilities. In that same year, Boston held the first Disability Pride Day. 

Although Disability Pride Day isn't nationally recognized, parades are held in a number of places nationwide, such as Los Angeles, New York City, San Francisco, San Antonio and more. In 2015, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio declared July Disability Pride Month in celebration of the ADA’s 25th anniversary.

Disability Pride Month serves as an opportunity for individuals and the broader community to celebrate disability culture, draw attention to the expertise and lived experience of disabled individuals, raise awareness around ableism and engage non-disabled individuals in thoughtful and meaningful dialogue around disability and ableism.

 

What Do All the Colors of the Disability Flag Mean?

disability flag

The Disability Pride Flag, initially designed in 2019 by Ann Magill, was created to encompass all disabilities.  It was revised in 2021 with community input and is now in the public domain.  Within the flag, each color stripe has a meaning:

  • Red - physical disabilities
  • Gold - neurodiversity
  • White - invisible disabilities and disabilities that haven't yet been diagnosed
  • Blue - emotional and psychiatric disabilities, including mental illness, anxiety, and depression
  • Green - for sensory disabilities, including deafness, blindness, lack of smell, lack of taste, audio processing disorder, and all other sensory disabilities

The faded black background mourning and rage for victims of ableist violence and abuse. The diagonal Bband cuts across the walls and barriers that separate the disabled from normal society, also representing light and creativity cutting through the darkness.

 

What Can I Do to Help?

Consider how to be more inclusive of folks with disabilities by following these guidelines for disability etiquette:

  1. If you would like to help someone with a disability, ask if they need it, and listen to any instructions the person may want to give.
  2. Call a person by their first name only when you extend this familiarity to everyone present.
  3. Be considerate of the extra time it might take a person with a disability to get things done or said. Let the person set the pace in walking and talking.
  4. When you're talking with wheelchair users for more than a few minutes, sit down so you are at eye level with that person.
  5. If an interpreter is helping you speak with a deaf person, make sure you talk to the deaf person and not the interpreter.
  6. Don’t be embarrassed if you happen to use common expressions that seem to relate to the person’s disability such as “See you later” or “I’ve got to run.” It's okay to use words like "see", "hear", "walk" and "run" when you're talking to people with disabilities.
  7. Never pet or play with service dogs. They can't be distracted from the job they are doing.
  8. If you have a question about access, always ask it and don’t assume you already know the answer.
  9. Don't park in accessible parking spots unless you need to, and never block curb cuts, sidewalks or driveways.
  10. Don't assume someone doesn't have a disability just because they aren't using mobility aids. Not all disabilities are visible.

For further guidance, read the complete list of recommendations from Eastern Seals.

 

How Can I Become More Involved?

 

How Can I Learn More?

Consider reading some of these resources to further your understanding and help support individuals with disabilities: 

June 2024

June is Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month

Honoring the Human Brain and Raising Awareness about Alzheimer’s Disease

 

Did You Know …?

Worldwide, more than 55 million people are living with Alzheimer's or another form of dementia. 

 

What is Dementia?

Dementia is a general term for loss of memory, language, problem-solving and other thinking abilities that are severe enough to interfere with daily life. Diseases grouped under the general term "dementia" are caused by abnormal brain changes. Dementia symptoms trigger a decline in thinking skills, also known as cognitive abilities, severe enough to impair daily life and independent function. They also affect behavior, feelings and relationships.

 

What is Alzheimer’s Disease? 

Alzheimer's is the most common cause of dementia, accounting for 60-80% of dementia cases. It is also a progressive disease, where dementia symptoms gradually worsen over a number of years. In its early stages, memory loss is mild, but with late-stage Alzheimer's, individuals lose the ability to carry on a conversation and respond to their environment. On average, a person with Alzheimer's lives 4 to 8 years after diagnosis but can live as long as 20 years, depending on other factors. 

 

What are measures people can take to try and prevent dementia?

Our brains are living, thinking organs. Like our hearts, stomachs, and other parts of our bodies, they need to be taken care of to function optimally and maintain their health. 

But we often don’t recognize our brain’s distress signals as clearly as we do those of other organs. It’s rare to feel brain pains, but we all know the sensation of elevated heart rates and queasy stomachs. It’s best to monitor and maintain our brain health proactively, rather than read and react to any arising issues. While family history, age, and genetics are set in stone, other contributing factors can be controlled and curtailed. 

 

To support your brain health, try this:

Reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease by avoiding drugs and alcohol, eating a balanced diet, exercising daily, and maintaining healthy levels of blood pressure and cholesterol.

Stay mentally and socially active by reading, practicing other languages, playing musical instruments, playing puzzles and games, and making sure you are maintaining an active friend group with whom you can talk and help support.

 

How can I get involved?

  • Wear purple throughout June and especially on June 21 — The Longest Day® — a special day of action for the Alzheimer’s community.
  • If you have a personal connection to dementia or Alzheimer’s, consider sharing a story using the hashtag #ENDALZ on IG. 
  • The Alzheimer's Association is hosting the 2024 Walk to End Alzeheimer’s in the Pioneer Valley on Sunday, October 20 at Holyoke Community College. Visit this link to register for the walk, donate to the cause or learn about how you can volunteer at the event!

What more can I do to learn?

  • Follow @alzassociation to stay tuned to all the ways you can take action in June.
  • Visit the Alzheimer's Association at alz.org for more ways to stay informed.