New event in Rochester celebrates people with disabilities - KTTC Rochester, Austin, Mason City News, Weather and Sports

New event in Rochester celebrates people with disabilities

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ROCHESTER, Minn. (KTTC) -

Every December 3rd, the United Nations celebrates the International Day of Disabled Persons.

It's a day to acknowledge people with disabilities and challenge misconceptions about them.

A new event in Rochester from the Mayo Clinic Office of Diversity and Inclusion brought the celebration here on Monday.

Just like an open book, Ben Cockram is happy to answer questions about his disorder.

"I was born with a mild case of cerebral palsy," he said.

He often speaks throughout the community about life with cerebral palsy. 

"My wife and I have a daughter, I mean we live a normal life. There's nothing that stops me." 

Rochester's Day of Persons with Disabilities event is full of people like Cockram: eager to share their stories. 

"There's so many hidden abilities here in our community and so many times people with disabilities may be judged on a preconceived notion or an experience that you've had and we really wanted to highlight all of their strengths and their abilities," explained Dawn Kirchner, one of the organizers. 

In fact, part of the celebration included a "human library," where people could check out a book by sitting down with a person with a disability or another unique characteristic, and then asking them questions. 

Marissa Larson came to the celebration to educate others about the deaf community.

"I really want to spread the word out and to inform people that our disability is not visible," she said. 

And she's teaching others the importance of inclusion. 

"When you meet with a deaf person, don't just walk away," Larson said. "Try to adapt to that conversation through any measures that you could. Don't walk away and be inclusive and include them in your conversation."

Because just like books, we all have our own unique story. 

"We all have a disability," said Cockram. "Mine might be that I mumble more and don't walk straight. Other people can't do math, some people can't do algebra. We all have a disability it doesn't mean that one person is better than somebody else."

The event also invited a keynote speaker to talk about mental illness. 

There were also some musical performances by community members with disabilities. 

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