Student organization spreads message of inclusion

Louisville Freshman Michael Bryar hands a participant a bowling ball before stepping up to the lane. Bryar volunteered with fellow members of WKU’s Inclusive Ministries program Saturday at the Area 5 Special Olympics Bowling Tournament.

Anna Roederer

Louisville junior Cameron Levis is an ordinary college student with an extraordinary passion for people with disabilities.

Levis’ love of working with disabled people stretches back to both his parents working with individuals with disabilities.

“Wheelchair users used to rock me to sleep when I was a baby,” Levis said.

Mark Levis, Cameron’s father, coached a Special Olympics basketball team in Louisville and said since the age of four, Cameron wanted to help.

Although Levis grew up around people with disabilities, he did not realize until college that working with them is his passion.

Two years ago, Levis began WKU’s inclusive ministries program, which is organized around two parts, Levis said. The first part is for students to share the love of Jesus with individuals with disabilities, and the second part is to spread awareness of inclusion.

The program partners with organizations within the Bowling Green community and provides their own programming as well.

“The program is excellent,” Levis said.

Any student is welcome to come no matter their background, he said.

“One of the biggest challenges we face is getting students the desire to step out of their comfort zone and come out,” Levis said.

Levis understands that working with people with disabilities can be uncomfortable at the beginning for some people and said the organization will help students to gradually get involved. The goal is to give students exposure, which will then lead to awareness of inclusion.

“It doesn’t take a special person to do this but just a heart to serve people,” Levis said. “You don’t need special skills or passions.”

Levis said that a willingness to serve can lead to a rewarding experience.

“Working with people with disabilities is contagious,” Levis said. “The joy radiates off them and you can’t help but leave feeling happier.”

Levis said he remembers a girl who volunteered last spring at a dance for people with disabilities. The girl was nervous at first, but as her discomfort wore off she ended up dancing with several different men with disabilities.

“If you go and do it, and step out of your comfort zone, you really get into it,” Levis said.

Levis said something he learned from his mom is that the key is to focus on a person’s abilities, not their disabilities.

While his passion and vision behind WKU’s Inclusive Ministries program has positively impacted people, Levis does not want the focus to be on himself.

“I don’t want it to become about me,” Levis said. “I am just a vessel God used.”

Levis’ vision for working with people with disabilities stretches beyond the limits of college and is something he wants to do full time.

“It would be sad if I graduated and was like, ‘Cool, that was fun,’ and nothing happened,” Leis said.

Levis’ vision is to create a bigger non-profit organization with two sides. The first side is to establish a unified organization and chapter, and the second side is to help churches implement disability ministries. Currently, WKU Inclusive Ministries program is in the process of working with their first local church to start a disability ministry, Levis said.

“If I let my passion go to waste, it would be a waste of time,” he said.

In this way, Levis will pursue his passion and continue his mother’s and father’s legacy of working with individuals with disabilities.