Start main page content

DAM students open doors

- Wits University

The Disability Awareness Movement was honoured at the Student Leadership Awards for their role in promoting the interests of disabled students.

 Anna Chrysostomou_Dr Judy Dlamini_ Mpho Thahale_ Lehlohonolo Senong

Third year BA student Lehlogonolo Senong, with a triple major in psychology, sociology and sign language, is excited about the year ahead.

One of the objectives that he has set for himself is to increase awareness of visible and invisible disabilities amongst students.

“Most students are afraid to come forth and talk about their struggles,” says the activist and Chairperson of the Disability Awareness Movement (DAM).

“With that in mind, it is imperative that we make all students aware that they do not need to suffer alone. There is support,” he says.

Some of the invisible disabilities include learning difficulties (e.g. dyslexia, attention deficit disorders), mental disorders (depression), as well as hearing and vision impairments. These conditions can limit a person’s ability to function, study, socialise or work. However, they can be managed with proper support.

Senong, who is a wheelchair user as a result of a bike accident, navigates challenges on and off campus. The social exclusion of students with different abilities is also a matter close to his heart. The challenge is to address society’s ignorance around the needs of people with disabilities.

In his role as chairperson, he has led initiatives tackling such misconceptions and has resurrected DAM from dormancy. His efforts, and those of his team, have not gone unnoticed. 

Senong, together with his Deputy Chair, Anna Chrysostomou, a BSc Astronomy and Astrophysics student, were recognised at the 2017 Student Leadership Awards for their role in promoting the interests of disabled students on campus. DAM executive members, Katleho Sera and Chipo Kamukwamba were also awarded.

As for 2018, Anna says the year will see the student society “propagate our message of inclusiveness.”

“Our overall goal is to create an environment which sees the seamless integration of disabled students into the greater Wits community, and we intend to ensure that such a goal is achieved. We plan to engage more thoroughly with the various subgroups of the Wits community and increase the frequency of public events as well.”

Anna, who achieved 10 distinctions in matric, is living with scoliosis, a medical condition that is the result of the spine curving to form an s-shape, disrupting the body’s alignment.

However, her studies have progressed smoothly at Wits, a fact which she attributes to the Wits Disability Rights Unit (DRU).

“I am fortunate enough to receive a great deal of support from my colleagues and professors at Wits, but forefront among these generous individuals has been the Disability Rights Unit. The staff at the DRU are altruism personified: they go above and beyond to ensure that the emotional, physical, and intellectual needs of every student are met, and have inspired me to do all that I can to aid them in their efforts.”

The DRU is a model unit in higher education and supports more than 1200 students at Wits.




Related article:

Tech as eyes and ears