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UM Events Provide Information on Traumatic Stress, Brain Injury

April is Disability History and Awareness Month and several organizations at the University of Mississippi have teamed up to create Healing, Awareness and Empowerment Week to increase awareness of disabilities related to trauma.

The events, which begin Monday (April 11) and run through Friday, are designed raise awareness of disabilities and injuries related to trauma, such as depression, anxiety, traumatic brain injury and post-traumatic stress disorder. The activities include a campus walk, educational presentations and an art show.

Campus organizations helping sponsor and stage the events include Student Disabilities Services, Ole Miss Student Veterans of America, Counseling Services, Department of Housing, Rebels Against Sexual Assault, Veterans and Military Services, and the Violence Prevention Office. Melissa Skolnic, a graduate assistant in the Student Disability Services office, helped coordinate the week of events and recruit other campus organizations as partners.

“I wanted to work on something I was passionate about and through this week of events, we hope to raise awareness that PTSD and TBI not only greatly affects veterans, but others as well,” Skolnic said.

The week’s central event is a 1.2-mile walk to benefit Mission 22, a national organization that helps support veterans struggling with PTSD and works to end veteran suicide.

These issues are important, especially for veterans, said Aaron Rutkowski, a veteran of the war in Iraq and president of the Ole Miss Student Veterans of America.

“Every veteran knows someone dealing with PTSD or TBI,” he said. “Mission 22’s statement includes that every day, 22 veterans commit suicide. We want to bring awareness to veteran and military suicide through Mission 22 so people understand the lasting effects of trauma.”

The walk is set for 4-6 p.m. Wednesday (April 13) in the Circle and will begin with a talk by a veteran about PTSD. The group will place boots at the Ole Miss Student Union to represent 22 victims of suicide, and shirts benefitting Mission 22 will be on sale at a table outside the Union.

Here is the full schedule of events:

Monday

“My Dog is Not for Petting: Pet, Comfort Dog, Therapy Dog and Service Dog Education,” 2:30 to 5 p.m., Ole Miss Student Union Plaza

This event is designed to educate the campus community on the differences between a pet, comfort animal, service animal and therapy animal. Information will also be available about campus housing and SDS accommodations. The Oxford-Lafayette Humane Society will bring dogs to campus to demonstrate the healing component of pets.

Tuesday

Traumatic Brain Injury Day, 1-2 p.m., Ole Miss Student Union. Room 404

Matt Morrison, an assistant professor of electrical engineering, will discuss his research on concussions and their symptoms. A table outside the Union will offer information about TBIs.

Wednesday

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Day, Ole Miss Student Union, Room 405, and Lyceum Circle

Speakers in the Union will provide information about PTSD from 1 to 2 p.m., discussing signs and symptoms of the disorder. A table outside the Union will contain brochures on etiquette on more information about PTSD. The Mission 22 walk begins at 4 p.m. at the Lyceum.

Thursday

Art Wall Display, Reception and Panel Discussion, 5-8 p.m., Powerhouse

Art from healing events throughout the year will be on display. A panel of guests, ranging from people living with invisible disabilities to professionals assisting people dealing with trauma, will speak on the topic. Dinner will be provided by Ole Miss Catering. Business attire is requested.

Friday

“Taking a Trauma Informed Approach,” 1-2 p.m., Minor Hall, Room B05C

This presentation will discuss ways for faculty, staff and student affairs personnel to sensitively engage with those who may have experienced trauma, as well as offer tools to help remove bias and stigma.

For more information and a list of all Student Disability Services events, go to http://sds.olemiss.edu/disability-awareness-month/.

Courtesy of Christina Steube and the Ole Miss News Desk

Adam Brown
Adam Brown
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