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SCCC host Abilities Awareness Week

Schenectady County Community College is hosting Abilities Awareness Week starting through Friday, March 27. Through a series of programs and events, the college hopes to raise awareness and appreciation for people with disabilities by recognizing their abilities.

Just because an individual has a disability doesn't mean that they don't have an incredible number of abilities. In a number of areas and for too long people have focused on their disabilities and not the abilities that they come with, said Ellen Wertlieb, coordinator of Americans With Disabilities Act transition services at Schenectady County Community College.

"People are looked at too much as objects, for example as the blind person, rather than the person who happens to be blind," said Wertlieb.

Wertlieb said that a group of students at the college decided to call the week Abilities Awareness Week rather than Disabilities Awareness Week because they wanted to focus specifically on what people can do rather than what they can't do.

There are many speakers and movies planned for the week, including a performance by the band Flame, which consists entirely of individuals with disabilities.

"One of the highlights is the band that's going to be coming," said Wertlieb of the local band that's now gaining clout internationally.

Flame is from Fulton County and it consists entirely of people with developmental and physical disabilities.

"They started out of a recreation program five years ago. Here we noticed we had a couple of individuals with really amazing talent at a talent show, and the lead singer performed and she blew everyone away," said Tim Fiori, director of public relations for Flame. "The recreation director said, 'We have to have a rock band,' so she had open auditions and within a couple of weeks we had a band formed."

He said that once people in the community started hearing the band play they started getting requests to hear them everywhere. The band started to grow in popularity and they began playing all over the country. They even landed a trip to Greece last December when they were invited by the Greek government to perform at a convention. They also recently performed at the Special Olympics in Idaho.

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