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Where they’re writing from

BY MEAGHAN ROHAN | JANUARY 22, 2010 7:30 AM

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Steven Achrazoglou seems to be a boy of little words.

But give him a pen and paper, and he seems to have quite a bit to say.

Steven, a 13-year-old student at Southeast Junior High, wrote the poem “Where is Autism from? A Disability Poem,” which won him first place in the youth poetry category for the Voices of Disability Writing Contest, sponsored by the UI Council on Disability Awareness. He and several other students and adults were honored at a ceremony Thursday afternoon in the Pappajohn Business Building.

Around 50 people attended the ceremony and listened as people of all ages shared their contest entries.

“I am from friends who always got my back,” Steven read. “I am from teachers who always try to help.”

His mother, Jamie Achrazoglou, a contracts manager with UI Facilities Management and a UI student, received an e-mail about the contest and thought of her son’s poem posted on the refrigerator. She entered the piece in the contest.

Steven, who has Asberger’s, said he has written more than 50 short stories. His favorite is “Ligeris,” a “fantasy story from a different world.”

His parents listened while their son read his poem at the ceremony. His mother said it was a good experience for their son, and she enjoyed the creative subject matter of the event.

“Steven has wanted to be a writer for a long time,” said his father, John Achrazoglou, who teaches in the UI College of Education and is active on the schools’ diversity committee.

First-, second-, and third-place winners in the areas of youth poetry, adult poetry, youth prose, and adult prose were honored. Participants included students, employees, and community members.

The Council on Disability Awareness, created 20 years ago, encourages those with disabilities to participate in educational, occupational, social, and cultural life at the UI while providing general awareness.

The council strives to hold one to two events involving members of both the university and Iowa City communities for those with disabilities and anyone interested.

There are 642 students with disabilities at the UI, said Mark Harris, the director of Student Disability Services. Disability Services works with 600 to 1,000 faculty, staff, and applicants each year, said Jan Gorman, the director of Faculty and Staff Disability Services.


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