Full Spectrum of Cultural Events on Display at The University of Scranton

Sep 15, 2010

An impressive lineup of keynote speakers will be featured as The University of Scranton hosts the ninth annual Northeastern U.S. Conference on disAbility on Wednesday, Oct. 6, that celebrates the accomplishments of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) after 20 years. Between presentations, participants will have the opportunity to experience a broad array of cultural events including a musical performance by Scott Key, artwork by Verve Vertu and Matthew Mroz, and a wheelchair-accessible model train layout.

Despite being born without fully formed hands or feet, Scott Key refused to let his disability interfere with his dreams. He was a varsity wrestler in high school and began playing guitar a decade ago. Today he plays before appreciative audiences, and his cover of Neil Young's Harvest Moon on YouTube has nearly 3,000 views.

The Verve Vertu Art Center, located in Wilkes-Barre, is a division of The Deutsch Institute. Serving the northeast region since 1979, the center is dedicated to developing and expanding the leisure and recreational activities of persons with disabilities and special needs by offering classes in varied art forms. The institute makes use of existing resources and facilities and volunteer services to initiate pilot programs, as well as cooperative community ventures with social service agencies.

Matthew Mroz is a local artist and currently a student at Keystone College. During his early college career, he was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. He expresses himself artistically through modes of painting, blown glass and bronze sculpture. His art was featured in the AFA (Artists for Art) Gallery in downtown Scranton in May.

Wheelchair Engineers is specifically designed to allow children and adults using wheelchairs, including stroke victims and wounded war veterans, to operate model railroad trains on a large accessible layout. Much of the art of the layout was crafted by persons with disabilities.

Additionally, during the conference luncheon, Josie Cordaro of Scranton will once again recite an original poem. Now retired, she was employed by Allied Services for 43 years. She is well known for her poetry and readings and is The University of Scranton’s disAbility Conference Poet Laureate. At this year’s conference, she will recite her poem “There Comes A Time.” Cordaro has contributed a poem for all eight previous conferences.

The conference — which will include sessions on a range of issues for people with disabilities including legal, health and wellness, psychological, social, vocational and educational — features a lineup of distinguished keynote speakers including the Honorable Lynnae M. Ruttledge, commissioner of the Rehabilitation Services Administration, Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services, U.S. Department of Education; Andrew J. Imparato, president and CEO of the American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD); John Hockenberry, a nationally recognized award-winning journalist; and Kathleen West-Evans, director of Business Relations for the National Council of State Administrators of Vocational Rehabilitation (CSAVR).

Titled “Celebrate the Evolution: The ADA at 20 Years,” the conference is being presented by The University of Scranton’s Panuska College of Professional Studies and the Edward R. Leahy Jr. Endowment. Honorary chairpersons are Edward R. Leahy ’68, H’01 and Patricia Leahy, director of Governmental Affairs for the National Rehabilitation Association.

The conference fee includes a continental breakfast and awards luncheon. John Hockenberry’s presentation, which begins at 4 p.m. in the McIlhenny Ballroom of the DeNaples Center, is free of charge and open to the public.

            For additional information, visit www.scranton.edu/disabilityconference.


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