Developmental disabilities can come in a number of forms, from blindness to Down syndrome. A group of NEOMED students are teaming together to make a difference in the lives of those affected by those disabilities. Jasmine Binod, a rising second-year College of Medicine student and DDAC’s co-president, explains the importance of the Developmental Disabilities Awareness Club (DDAC).
Tell us about DDAC.
Our club's purpose is to be a voice for developmental diseases that may not be very well known and therefore don't have as many advocates. Though fewer people around the world are afflicted by these diseases, those patients and their families are still going through many hardships and we should be raising awareness so that better treatments and cures can be studied for them.
What does DDAC do around campus?
We hold several events throughout the year. DDAC is mainly known for its Rare Disease Week, during which we have speaker events and fun activities for the students at NEOMED to raise awareness for rare diseases. Citrullinemia (a disease that causes a buildup of ammonia and other toxic chemicals in the blood which progresses into vomiting, seizures and loss of consciousness) and dyspraxia (a disease that causes difficulty in muscle control leading to problems with movement, coordination, language and speech) are two diseases that were discussed this year. Both of them diminish quality of life considerably for afflicted individuals.
We also help host the annual A Night in their Shoes dinner. It is a night for students to have the opportunity to experience how the blind and deaf live, and how they perceive the world around them.
Does the DDAC do any outreach outside of campus?
This past year DDAC helped build a disability-friendly children's playground at Walnut Grove Park in Canfield, Ohio. It was a fulfilling way to spend the day with several other organizations all working together.
Why do you encourage students to become members of the DDAC?
DDAC is one of the most involved organizations on campus. It’s a great way to meet and spend time with fellow classmates as well as give back to the community. It will open your eyes to many developmental diseases that you may never have heard of before. All members of DDAC have the opportunity to make an impact and help those individuals with developmental disabilities by raising awareness.
Students interested in joining the DDAC are encouraged to contact group advisor Dana Peterson, Ph.D., associate professor of anatomy and neurobiology, at firstname.lastname@example.org.