BSU Student Wins World Championship
During the beginning of October, while most stu¬dents were in class, Natalie Russo was in Japan for the 2007 Power Soccer World Cup. Natalie, a fresh¬man at Ball State from Carmel, is a member of the USA's Power Soccer Team. This was the first year for the World Cup in Tokyo, Japan, and Team USA became the world champions after beating France (6-5) in triple overtime. Natalie traveled to Japan with her mom, dad and brother (who is also on the team), and the rest of her teammates.
Power soccer in the United States began in California. Power soccer is played on an indoor regulation basketball court. Each team is allowed to have 12 players on the team and only four players on the court at a time. "There is a lot of backing up," said Natalie. "That's one of the reasons why we can't have so many people." Metal guards are placed on the chairs to help strike the ball. No contact may be made guard to guard or guard to chair. Each half is 20 minutes long.
Natalie and her family found out about power soccer when they attended Muscular Dystrophy Association Camp in Tennessee. Her family then decided to start up a power soccer league in Indiana. Indiana now has 10 active teams. Her mother and father are now the president and vice president for the United States Power Soccer Association. Her family has been highly involved with power soccer since its beginning and also attended a conference to make the rules universal. "The rules are more like able bodied soccer. They just became final last September," said Natalie. There used to be twelve different countries that all played by different rules.
Since Natalie and her teammates are scattered across the country, it was not possible for them all to get together to practice. Their coach, Chris Finn, sent them all assignments to complete each week in order for the teammates to get to know each other better. Natalie contacted her Team USA teammates once a week, and their coach sent them different drills they needed to do throughout the week. Additionally, the team tried to get together every other month for a three day, ten hours per day, training camp.
Natalie said that power soccer is not like any other adaptive sport. "Power soccer is the only sport to allow you have full independence," Natalie said. "The independence that I have learned on the field has really helped prepare me for college independence." New Buildings
This fall Ball State opened two new buildings: The David Letterman Communication and Media Building, and Park Hall, a new residence hall. In addition, BSU renovated Scheumann Stadium and the Woodworth dining facility. The new buildings have added to the new face of Ball State and have helped to liven up the campus. Disability access was taken into consideration during the building and renovation processes.
Brad Clark, a Telecommunications major, commented on the access in the Letterman Building. "I have been very pleased with the access in the new Letterman Building. Obviously being a TCOM major, I am there a lot and so far I have not run into any problems. Everything seems to be in working order."
Park Hall, a 600 bed facility, is the first new residence hall to open on campus since the late 1960s. Park Hall has more modern amenities that college students now want and expect in a residence hall, including central air and more privacy in the bathroom facilities. While Park Hall provides good access for students with a variety of disabilities, student Whitney Collins feels that Noyer Complex is still best option for wheelchairs users. In addition to Noyer having a dining hall within the facility, plenty of ground floor rooms are available for students with disabilities. While all of Park Hall's floors are fully accessible by elevator, Collins feels that since no rooms are at ground level, most wheelchair users may not choose to live there.
"I think that Park Hall would work out great for some people with disabilities, however, for wheelchair users I don't think it is the best place to be," Collins said. "I know they were possibly talking about opening another entrance in the back that is just used as a fire exit right now, if that entrance opens to the public at a later time this might make Park a little more accessible. "
The renovations made to the Woodworth dining facility have made it a viable option for all students. "Woodworth is a great new option for dining; I eat there all the time. I love the salad bar. As a wheelchair user I am unable to use the salad bar at Noyer by myself. At Woodworth I am able to get a salad because they do it for you," stated Collins.
Plans are in the works for another new residence hall as well as plans to update the Dehority Complex. As Ball State continues to grow and update, accessibility will be one of the top priorities. Student Profile: Jeff Snell
Jeff Snell is a junior Exercise Science major and is originally from Selma, Indiana. Jeff is a relatively new employee in the DSD office. He began working in the office in the spring and continues to do so this fall. Jeff plans to attend medical school after he graduates in order to become a radiologist. In his spare time, Jeff is a competitive body builder.
Jeff travels across the United States every year to participate in various body building competitions. Jeff began lifting weights when he was 12 years old, but did not begin entering competitions until recently. After completing practicum hours for his Exercise Science major at Studio 22, a gym in Muncie, Jeff decided to work out there permanently. The employees at Studio 22 encouraged Jeff to enter the world of competitive bodybuilding.
Jeff has competed in four bodybuilding competitions. He took home first place in two of the shows, guest posed at Mr. Ball State, and came in second in the Wheelchair Nationals competition in Florida. Wheelchair Nationals is the biggest competition in the United States. The winner of this gets a pro card, which means he becomes a professional body builder, and gets to pose for magazines and can become sponsored by a supplement company. "Even if I didn't compete," Jeff said. "I would still body build. I like staying in shape and making my muscles bigger."
During the off-season, Jeff says that he has to eat a lot as well as work out. Once the in-season begins, which is usually the three months prior to the contest, Jeff goes on a diet, does cardio and lifts weights. When asked what he enjoys most about body building, Jeff said, "I like staying in shape and working out."
Jeff said that although his least favorite part is the dieting and cardio, he wants to continue to do body building as long as he can. He would one day like to do a guest pose at the Mr. Olympia competition.
Jeff was also featured on BSU's new "Education Redefined" website. The new website features narratives about BSU students in an attempt to give prospective BSU students a glimpse of campus life at BSU. Larry Markle, director of the DSD office, highlights BSU's campus-wide commitment to access and opportunity for students with disabilities at BSU. Harris Update
Former DSD director Richard Harris drops by the office now and then, especially if there is food! He has been active in retirement through volunteer work, some professional presentations, spending time with his three granddaughters, and lot of travel, having recently been to Alaska to ride trains. He can be contacted at email@example.com
. Faculty Mentorship Program Update
While only in its second year, the Faculty Mentorship Program (FMP) for students with disabilities has produced positive results for students and faculty who are participating and has assisted DSD staff in promoting awareness of the role of the DSD office and the services it provides.
The purpose of the FMP is to connect new students with disabilities at Ball State with a faculty member in the student's prospective major or area of interest. This one-on-one involvement with faculty members gives students a sense of belonging to the university community and a better understanding of the academic expectations of students at the university. Last year, there were over thirty students and thirty faculty members involved; this year there are approximately forty students and forty faculty members participating.
Year one of the FMP was a success in several ways. Students who participated in the FMP earned higher grade point averages than those who chose not to participate, and 86% of the students who participated in the program were retained to year two at Ball State. In addition, faculty who participated were involved in several workshops and meetings that allowed them to broaden their knowledge and understanding of disability-related issues, and thus, better serve students with disabilities in the classroom.
The program is a collaboration between the DSD office, the faculty members of Ball State, and the Learning Center. Dr. Taiping Ho of the department of Criminal Justice and Criminology is the faculty coordinator, and Dr. Jackie Harris represents the Learning Center. Dr. Ho, Dr. Harris, and Larry Markle, director of DSD, worked together to implement the program.
Dr. Harris emphasized the importance of the FMP for both students and faculty members. "This program is beneficial to everyone involved with it. The students gather realistic information about professors, departmental majors, support services and the university. The faculty members learn more about disability issues and student concerns as well as their strategies for adaptations. Additionally, as the students and faculty gain insights into one another, they foster the efforts of the DSD office, Learning Center, and departments across campus."
Linda Strunck, an instructor of Special Education, has been involved in the FMP both years and has mentored two students each year. She stated that she participates because she feels faculty mentoring is vital for all students, but especially for students with disabilities. Strunck added that she is "amazed at how my students and my colleagues' students and the mentors develop a trusting, supportive, and positive relationship which benefits both students and faculty members involved with the program."
"The key to the success of this program has been the faculty participation," Markle said. "The forty or so faculty members who are part of the FMP are recognized as some of the best professors on campus. The fact that they are willing to volunteer their time to help make a smooth transition to college for students with disabilities clearly indicates the type of people they are."
Faculty mentors were trained by the program's founders at its inception, and subsequent training has been provided at the Adaptive Computer Technology Lab and at the Learning Center. Luncheon discussion meetings with the mentors are held every four to six weeks and give the mentors a chance to learn more about services for students with disabilities on campus and to discuss strategies for how to best meet the needs of the students they are mentoring.
"This has become a great forum for me to get the word out to the faculty about students with disabilities, my office, and the many resources available on campus," Markle noted. "These faculty mentors are able to better understand students' needs and the role DSD plays on campus. They also are able to take the information they learn from the program and share it with colleagues in their respective departments. This has become a terrific way for me to help faculty members to know and appreciate the work we do." DSIA Update
This semester, Disabled Students in Action co-Presidents Teri Whitaker and Amy Shaw planned two great events for their members. The first event was a meeting with Career Center staff member Willow King. Willow is the Career Center's liaison to DSD and has special training in disability employment issues. Willow gave DSIA members an overview of services available at the Career Center, critiqued resumes, and answered questions about job searching. DSIA members also attended an exclusive meeting with Jim Lowe, the Director of Engineering and Operations, from Facilities Planning and Management. DSIA members spoke with Jim about the new buildings on campus, asked questions, and gave suggestions regarding accessibility on campus. Next semester, DSIA will plan Disability Awareness Month events for March. DSD Video Projects
This semester two students in Telecommunications professor Dom Caristi's seminar in production class created video projects for DSD. The assignment for class members was to work with a non-profit entity to produce a video that would help the organization better serve its mission. Students Kathleen Sheets and Nathan Baker both chose DSD as their client.
Kathleen produced a promotional video for the office that could be sent to high schools in the state of Indiana and also be put on DSD's website. Nathan's film focused on tips and suggestions for the university community in interacting with students with disabilities. Both videos utilized Ball Sate "talent" – students with disabilities and faculty and staff members.
"I am grateful for the opportunity to work with the students and staff members on this project and hope that these films will impact the campus in a positive way," says producer Kathleen Sheets.
Both videos are in the finals stages of production and open captioned versions will appear on the DSD website early in 2008. DSD is very pleased with the professional quality of these projects and thanks Kathleen and Nathan for their work. Aggie Niemiec – DSD Associate Director
Aggie Niemiec, Assistant Director at DSD since 2005, was recently promoted to Associate Director. In addition to her responsibilities of coordinating auxiliary services for students with disabilities, with her new title comes new responsibilities. Aggie will now be in charge of all programs sponsored and facilitated by DSD.
With March being Disability Awareness Month, Aggie will work with various campus departments to present a variety of different speakers and events to provide the campus community with a greater understanding of disability issues. Aggie is also planning on hosting a transition event at Ball State geared towards high school students with disabilities. The purpose of this will be to assist students, parents, and secondary school personnel in understanding the differences between high school and college for students with disabilities and to show them the resources and services that Ball State provides.