January is March of Dimes month, a major fundraising campaign for the March of Dimes organization. Before shrugging this statement off as yet another group asking for money, check out what they’re all about.

One way or another, from childhood onward, March of Dimes operates within communities to support and enhance the quality of life for people with physical disabilities. Their goals are to increase independence for these people in their day-to-day lives.

To accomplish these goals, March of Dimes works on community awareness and tries to offer a range of appropriate programs and services to those in need. However, organizations like this don’t operate without the support from workers, volunteers, and donations.

Arthur spoke with Amanda, a woman with cerebral palsy who has received assistance from March of Dimes since she was young. She was happy to tell us about March of Dimes and spoke highly of their service, telling us, “They help me get equipment when I need it and are really understanding about what the client needs and wants.”

Amanda has also been involved with the Kawartha Participation Projects, also known as KPP. This organization strives to provide support and care to people with disabilities, as well as maintaining affordable housing to suit their needs in the Peterborough community. Amanda explained, “They help clients with personal care and they help with their daily needs and help out in the community if the client needs help.” She also told us that community members wishing to get involved can apply to work or volunteer, and that Trent nursing students can do placements with KPP for their schooling.

Arthur also spoke with Alison, the Trent U Students with Disabilities Commissioner for the TCSA. She told us that while Trent is not officially involved with March of Dimes or KPP at this time, the TCSA and Trent Administration are well aware of many accessibility issues at Trent University. As Trent U Students with Disabilities Commissioner, Alison sits on the Presidents Advisory Committee on Human Rights, Equity and Accessibility. This committee works on policies surrounding this area for the University and is currently quite active.

When we asked what students can do to increase accessibility at the University, Alison told us, “It’s just about getting the word out… I’m going to be doing events and workshops where people can come and talk. We might look at how disabilities are presented or are present in TV shows. I think it’s a huge university issue and we have to do something about it.” What she needs us to do something about is the general lack of accessibility for many places on campus. While there isn’t an immediate, one-person-can handle-it-fix obvious for many issues, awareness and advocacy are certainly a step towards a solution.

Both March of Dimes and KPP are important to the Peterborough community and its members in their own ways. March of Dimes is offering more ways than ever for individuals to participate in this with their fundraising campaign month, and by opening up online donations.

Organizations like March of Dimes and KPP and the programs that they run are about helping individuals and promoting awareness. As a part of the Peterborough community, Trent and its students are a part of this process, not just for attendees of our university, but for members of our surrounding community. Whether by donation, volunteering, or educating oneself and promoting the education of others, the reduction of stigma around disability and enabling all members of our community to live happily is everybody’s opportunity and responsibility.