International Day of Persons with Disabilities Celebrated at VIU Dec. 1

Sarah Packwood is getting straight A’s and B’s in her studies thanks to her dedication and hard work and the support of VIU’s Disability Services.

November 24, 2016 - 11:15am

Raising awareness about ‘invisible disabilities’ is the theme of this year’s Nanaimo campus event

There are many disabilities that you can’t see and that’s a message that Vancouver Island University’s (VIU) Disability Services wants to share with students, faculty, staff and the general public during the 5th Annual International Day of Persons with Disabilities, Dec. 1 at the Nanaimo campus. The theme at this year’s event is Achieving 17 Goals for the Future We Want and at VIU they will be highlighting ‘invisible disabilities’.

Sarah Packwood is a VIU Creative Writing student who has an invisible disability – fibromyalgia, which is a chronic disorder characterized by widespread musculoskeletal pain accompanied by fatigue, sleep, memory, mood, and various other issues.

“School is stressful for everyone. Whether you’re sick or not, adding on a chronic illness adds another level of stress and makes it hard to keep up with school and your peers,” said Packwood. “By bringing awareness through International Day of Persons with Disabilities the word gets out that students like me exist. I support the event because proactive outreach sends the message we deserve dignity and respect and deserve to be treated fairly whether in an education or work environment.”

There are many people who are able to go to school or work full time but struggle to get through their day because of an invisible disability such as fibromyalgia, autism, traumatic brain injury or cystic fibrosis. VIU’s Disability Services provides support and program initiatives designed to remove barriers for the more than 800 VIU students who have a disability. Community outreach is an important part of that work which is why celebrating International Day of Persons with Disabilities is so important.

Disability Services Access Specialist Denise Hook says 25 non-profit groups are coming to the Nanaimo campus to promote their services, raise awareness and inform the public about what they do. Attendees include Nanaimo Food Share, Nanaimo Brain Injury Society, Special Olympics of BC and Nanaimo Mental Health and Addiction Services to name just a few.

“I love the education that this event brings to our campus community. The feedback I’ve gotten from previous participating organizations is it’s an event that represents an incredible opportunity to network and let everyone know what’s available in Nanaimo and the surrounding area,” said Hook. “Community members who attend tell me that they had no idea what services were available out there or how to find them so it’s very valuable that way.”

Everyone is invited to come out and celebrate International Day of Persons with Disabilities on Dec. 1 from 11 am to 2 pm in the upper cafeteria at VIU’s Nanaimo campus. There will be special events during the day and a showing of the movie, Touch of the Light at 7 pm in building 356, room 109, sponsored by Worldbridger. To find out more please go to International Day of Persons with Disabilities



Dane Gibson, Communications Officer, Vancouver Island University

P: 250.740.6288 | C: 250.618.7296 | E: |  T: @viunews

Tags: In the Community