The Disability Advocacy and Community Alliance (DACA) kicked off this new term on Thursday with a general meeting to greet new members and lay the groundwork for its events and projects in the coming months.
DACA self-describes as a group that advocates for people who identify as having, or are commonly labelled as having, a disability. Part of this advocacy is to make the university and campus more accessible, not just in a physical sense, but in a way that alleviates the stress and daily struggle of people with disabilities of any form or severity.
In order to build a greater sense of inclusivity on and around campus, DACA strives to understand how the University of Waterloo can better serve its community by providing greater access to mental health services, student and faculty accessibility services, and fostering a more supportive campus culture.
The Disability Advocacy and Community Alliance has its roots in last year’s “Portrait of a Campus” initiative, which highlighted some of the mental health concerns voiced by UW students, staff, and faculty. From this launched the Mental Health Project, now a sister-project of DACA, whose aims include researching the state of mental health care and services within the university community and identifying ways in which it can be improved.
In the coming months, DACA plans to introduce community outreach programs.
In addition, the group is set to hold intersectional events with other clubs to spread awareness, and continue research for the Mental Health Project.