A wheelchair basketball demonstration will be featured during the city's Disability Awareness Expo on Saturday at the South Rocky Mount Community Center.

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A wheelchair basketball demonstration will be featured during the city's Disability Awareness Expo on Saturday at the South Rocky Mount Community Center.

Disability Awareness Expo aims to inform

By Brie Handgraaf

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Organizers of the inaugural Disability Awareness Expo said they hope Saturday’s event will be informational and fun for people with or without disabilities.

The Rocky Mount Mayor’s Commission on Persons with Disabilities organized the expo during Disability Awareness Month as a way to educate the public while offering information about resources available to disabled persons. In past years, the commission held an awards banquet to recognize members of the community and organizations efforts to help disabled persons.

“This year, the commission wanted to try something different,” said Felisa Johnson Hunter, Rocky Mount human relations specialist. “This will be a hands-on event.”

Members of a wheelchair basketball team from Raleigh will be on-hand to demonstrate their skills and give people the chance to try shooting hoops from a wheelchair.

“A lot of people look at being in a wheelchair as something easy, but it is not,” Hunter said. “They’ll have the chance to get in a wheelchair and try to maneuver around.”

City departments along with community organizations will have booths set up with information on resources they offer while members of the commission will be helping to educate attendees on issues such as the use of “disabled” instead of “handicapped.”

“We try to eliminate the use of “handicapped” because the use of “disabled” really helps create dignity and respect for these persons with disability,” said Allen Mitchell, chairman of the Mayor’s Commission on Persons with Disabilities.

Hunter said she hopes the event encourages people to understand what they can do to help people with disabilities.

“I think we need to better inform people about disabilities because not all disabilities are visible,” she said. “People can have a disability that you don’t see and others need to be educated about those disabilities as well.”

The free Disability Awareness Expo will be from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the South Rocky Mount Community Center at 517 Ravenwood Drive. Call 972-1184 for more information.