The ball is tossed, and the players immediately scramble for the ball. The players move their hands over the wheels, maneuvering the wheelchair around the basketball court.
The Wheelchair Basketball tournament took place Sunday at the Pearson Hall gymnasium, marking another successful event organized by the Adaptation and Understanding for People with Disabilities
The AUD is a new student organization at Temple that started with an ordinary conversation in Temple’s disability resources office between Aymon Eid and Sunny Shah. President and founder of the AUD, Aymon Eid was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis several years ago and was in the office looking for information when he met Sunny Shah. Their conversation turned into a plan to start an organization to bring students with disabilities together and also raise awareness among the larger student body.
“Our main goal is to help people with disabilities integrate into campus life and also introduce them to other students on campus,” Eid said at the AUD table in the Tuttleman Learning Center on Democracy Day.
Eid, a sophomore accounting major, also puts special emphasis on working with other student groups and giving back to the community. The AUD has collaborated with other Temple organizations such as the LGBT (Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender), Temple Democrats and Temple Republicans.
“We feel that we should help with the Temple community, but also for the larger Philadelphia community.” Eid said.
The AUD’s Chemo de Mayo event last spring raised $1,400 for the National MS Society, which made the AUD one of the largest non-corporate donors in the city.
The organization has up to 40 members including 20 active AUD members, with students from all different majors and areas of the university. However, the members are brought together not only by common physical or mental disabilities, but also a more universal idea of tolerance and understanding differences.
Jeff Dempsey, a sophomore political science major, is the Temple Student Government representative and temporary vice president of the AUD. Dempsey was approached by Eid, who shared a political science class with him, to help found the organization. Dempsey does not have a disability, and he said his involvement in the AUD embodies the spirit of the organization.
“We are all students and we all have similar interests,” Dempsey said. “There is hesitation and a sense of discomfort [about the issue of disability], but essentially we are all the same.”
“Disability awareness is something anyone can relate to. Although we have disabilities, we do everything that everyone else does,” said Shah, who has cerebral palsy.
This semester, AUD has had to change its management structure because Eid has had to study from home due to his illness. Shah has taken over the role of president temporarily with Dempsey as vice president. Despite structural changes, Eid is still very active in the AUD and every person has input in the organization.
“It’s a real team effort. Everyone does their assigned roles, but we all pitch ideas,” Shah said.
During this semester and continuing through next year, AUD aims to increase membership, continue organizing events by working with other student groups and raise money for different charities.
Shah said the fun events that the AUD has organized are “a great way to break down barriers.”
Mari Saito can be reached at email@example.com.