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DAASH hosts their first Awareness Week

Disability Awareness and Accessibility at Seton Hall hosted their first-ever Awareness Week from April 22-28, a week that raises awareness on various disabilities.

To accomplish their goal, DAASH hosted several events throughout the week on the campus Green.

Aubrey Tucker, a senior social and behavioral sciences major, said Awareness Week is meant to “highlight different disabilities on and off campus as well as fundraise for different organizations.”

“It was mainly done to just educate the student body, but we also wanted to fundraise for Autism Awareness Month as well,” Tucker said. “We believe that inclusion and acceptance are crucial to the student experience, which is why we all strive to educate the student body about different disabilities and limitations and work together to make the school and community more accessible.” 

Tucker said the organization hosted a bouquet-making session with Kappa Kappa Gamma, an activity with the theme of “Grow Your Mind.” All proceeds went to the Jed Foundation, a nonprofit organization that protects emotional health and advocates for teen and young adult suicide prevention nationwide. 

Tucker said along with making bouquets, she enjoyed the student disabilities panel. 

“We had two undergraduates and one graduate student, and they discussed their experiences living with various mental health conditions, as well as how DSS has helped them so far,” Tucker said. 

“Our panelists were vulnerable and honest, and I believe they inspired a lot of students,” said Anna Soltys, a senior biology major.

Joe Lakhman, a senior computer science major and the founder and president of DAASH, said for each day of the week, the organization highlighted a different disability. 

“The purpose is to reinforce the mission of our club, which is to spread awareness for individuals with all disabilities,” Lakhman said.

Lakhman said raising awareness is important for people with visible and invisible disabilities.

“The one thing we have learned in our first year as a club is that many people struggle with accepting their disability as a part of their identity,” Lakhman said. “Together, we aim to reduce the stigma that comes with having a disability to make our school more inclusive.”

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Lakhman said “the importance of that cannot be overstated.”

“Truthfully, individuals with disabilities are often overlooked and even though we have a great DSS office, there is still a lot of work to be done,” Lakhman said. “Something that we hear a lot is that many students do not feel comfortable voicing their disabilities, and DAASH gives them a safe space and a community where they can feel comfortable and seen.” 

The organization also hosted Dine to Donate, an event at Miti Miti in which 10% of every customer’s bill was donated to Autism Family Services of New Jersey, a nonprofit agency dedicated to improving the quality of life for those with autism as well as their loved ones.

“Since we are still a new club, we wanted to establish one event that could be held annually going forward, and hopefully Awareness Week is something that the new executive board can continue to host,” Lakhman said.

Maeve Kinney, a junior social and behavioral sciences major, said they also hosted a bake sale. All profits were donated to the Arc of New Jersey, one of the state’s largest organizations that advocate for and serve children and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families.

“Thursday was an Instagram takeover day – a student with a disability shared what she does during the day and how her disability may affect her, but also shared how campus helps her thrive,” Kinney said.

Kinney said the final event, the Awareness Week Walk, is intended to increase students’ awareness of the difficulties that students with disabilities face.

“Many students walked around Seton Hall to see how some students with disabilities get around campus, and to see what may hinder them,” Kinney said. “It was very educational to others who may not think about what others are unable to do.”

DAASH’s events serve a greater purpose than raising club funds, promoting visibility of the community of people with disabilities on campus.

Soltys said the week led her to “reflect a lot on invisible disabilities.”

“We never know what someone may be experiencing if it is not outwardly visible, so remember to be kind to everyone,” Soltys said.

“We have the privilege of having Gianna Graw, who is the assistant director of the DSS office on the South Orange campus as our advisor, so we can work very closely with Admin to advocate for the needs of students with disabilities,” Lakhman said. “We hope that in the next few years, the Seton Hall community can not only have a campus that is fully accessible to all, but also one where one where people can fully express all parts of their identity.”

DAASH is a growing organization and is open to both undergraduate and graduate students. The organization can be found on Instagram @daash.shu.

Gianna Terrarosa writes for the Campus Life and News sections. She can be reached at


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