Accessibility focus for homecoming festivities

Sixteen students selected to undergo extensive training to improve access for next week’s events

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With the four-year ban coming to an end next week, organizers are pulling everything together for this year’s Homecoming celebration.

It’s split up into two weekends, Oct. 5 and 19, each date celebrating different classes.

The first weekend is highlighting the 25th reunion of the Class of ’88, and the second the Class of ’63, celebrating their 60th reunion.

Over 1,700 people have registered in total for both weekends, according to Sarah Indewey, the manager of volunteer relations and reunions at Queen’s Alumni Relations.

“We work towards cost recovery ... so that it’s cost neutral,” she said, adding the that funding for events are covered by the registration fees for both weekends.

The school is neither losing money, nor profiting, Indeway confirmed.

Training for the 328 student volunteers will focus on accessibility and event logistics, she said.

According to Indewey, Homecoming will be accessible for those with various disabilities, including mobility impairments.

“In addition to the volunteers, we have the ‘accessibility champions’ who will have that specialized training,” she said.

“We also ensure that we ask alumni when they register if they have anything they want to self-identify.”

The accessibility champions are available to help alumni participate in activities that may have otherwise been difficult, including traveling throughout campus.

For the first time, the accessibility champions will be comprised of 16 students from the Occupational Therapy program, rather than undergraduate students in all faculties.

Homecoming is becoming more accessible with the use of golf carts to assist alumni from one event to another and around the track during the half-time parade.

Heidi Penning, the school’s equity advisor, said she’s pushing for the event to be much more focused on accessibility.

Penning led an Accessibility Standard for Customer Service training program for the group, which was customized for homecoming. The program took place on Wednesday night in preparation for the occasion and was mandatory.

This year, Penning said it’s important that volunteers are appropriately trained in accessibility as it’s such a huge event for Queen’s.

“We are part of something that’s never been done before,” she said at the training session. “We are here to help our alum.”

While accessibility training is in motion, one of the most anticipated events has been cut — the 3K Tricolour Run is no longer taking place, Gareth Savage, AMS campus activities commissioner, said.

“The city raised a lot of concerns about the event and we tried as much as we could to address each concern one by one,” he said.

The activity organizers were working with Run or Dye, an external company, which was helping them to organize the event.

“[The city’s] biggest concern was about the use of the dye in the event ... in terms of cleanup,” Savage said.

Run or Dye offered clean up options, but unfortunately the plug was pulled on the event, he added. The City felt that more time was needed to address the concerns.

As an addition, AMS has organized a Pancake Pep Rally on both Saturday mornings in which alumni and students can attend a free breakfast and watch student club performances at Agnes Benedickson Field.

A tree-planting initiative will also take place on both Sundays, which is being organized by the AMS Commission of the Environment and Sustainability.

Community members, alumni and students will be planting ten trees over the course of the two weekends on University Ave. between Clergy and Johnson Streets.

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