Junior high and high school students with disabilities in Toledo and Lucas County have the opportunity to compete in an essay competition and win a UT scholarship.
The Lucas County Commission on Disabilities is partnering with UT and The Blade to offer two $500 scholarships to students who write the best essay on how disabilities have affected them.
The scholarships will be awarded to the two students who best answer how living with a disability or knowing someone who has a disability has impacted their lives.
One scholarship will be presented to a middle school or junior high student and the other to high school student, according to Dr. Jim Ferris, Ability Center of Greater Toledo Endowed Chair of Disability Studies and director of the UT Disability Studies Program, which is in the School for Interdisciplinary Studies in the College of Languages, Literature and Social Sciences.
“UT was gracious enough to provide the scholarship, and The Blade stepped up to promote it,” said Ferris, professor of communication.
The commission’s mission is to pay attention to how city and county policies affect people with disabilities. It is a joint body of the city of Toledo and Lucas County, with half of the board appointees from Toledo, and half from other parts of the county.
The commission has worked with the Toledo Police Department on how to respond to calls with people who have mental disabilities and has worked to make sure authorities who take part in disaster relief are prepared to rescue persons with disabilities.
With this competition, the commission wants students to think beyond what normally are called disabilities.
“Young people should think about the range of disabilities in new ways,” Ferris said. “It is not a defect; it is a difference. It has its own richness. People with disabilities, more than anyone else, show why our species is the dominant species on Earth: It is because we humans are so adaptable and flexible. The most adaptable and creative people on the planet, of necessity, are people with disabilities.”
Ferris said UT students and faculty will judge the essays.
The submission deadline is Wednesday, Oct. 31.
Students ages 11 to 18 interested in the essay competition can view the criteria to apply at toledobladerewards.com/contest.