PDA rocks!

December 7, 2014
Rachel Newman

Just before Thanksgiving, Princeton Disabilities Awareness, popularly known as PDA, hosted its first fall conference/carnival. This event involved two simultaneous programs: a conference including keynote speakers such as Rachel Adams, famed author of Raising Henry; and a carnival for children with disabilities, pairing students with children and setting up activities run by student groups.

The event is entirely volunteer-based and built by students from the ground up. For it to succeed, each party’s participation is crucial. If not for the student organizers, the impressive panel of speakers, which draws parents to come to Princeton for the day, would not come together.  If not for the parents and their interest in coming to Princeton for the day, including some who travel considerably to make it to the event, the Princeton student body would not have the opportunity to interact with these children, an unforgettable experience for many. 

I have had the distinct pleasure of watching students who had filled out “no prior experience” on the application really open up and give all of their energy to a child they were introduced to that morning.  It is a beautiful thing to watch.  And of course, if not for the student volunteers, the children would not have the fun of having a “buddy” they can treat as a big brother or sister. Given the smiles on the kids faces and their reluctance to go home at the end of the day, it is clear that they too have fallen under the spell that is this fantastic and inspiring day.

When I was a freshman at the first PDA carnival, I was so impressed by all who devoted time and energy to making this event possible. Now, as a junior, I feel lucky to have been able to be on the board this year, coordinating volunteers among other things and working with other passionate students to create the event of the semester. 

I can’t wait for the spring carnival!