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Project Smink: Accessibility in Academia

Founded in the 1800s, Blue Mountain College’s campus is rich in historical buildings and rolling hills. While the aforementioned qualities offer a historically quaint aesthetic, they present serious hindrances for those with physical handicaps attempting to gain access to all the facilities BMC’s campus has to offer.

Project Smink is named after Shelby Smink, a junior as well as a Psychology major on campus at BMC with Cerebral Palsy. Due to Shelby’s condition, she has to rely on a wheelchair as her main form of transportation. A shining light on campus full of laughter and warmth, Shelby impacts all around her, so her friends soon began to notice her struggle traveling from building to building as well as opening doors on her own.

Pro-active students sought Dr. McMillin and Dean Ritchey’s assistance on what is now dubbed Project Smink.

Essentially, Project Smink’s objective is to make the BMC campus as well as facilities more handicapped accessible for students. Plans include installing new, automatic doors in Whitfield Dorm and the Dining Hall, as well as the Administration Building side door. This allows handicapped students easier access to the facilities without assistance. There are also plans to install new ramps at Whitfield, Stevens, and the Campus Store. Administration additionally hopes to install a new door in Fisher-Washburn to accommodate the size of a wheelchair.

Senior and exercise science major Lauren Ashley Collins spearheaded Project Smink from its earliest stages, speaking out on the importance of the project for Shelby as well as future BMC students: “The Lord used Shelby to inspire change on our campus and to inspire accessibility to her as well as future Toppers.” She added, “It’s really shown a message of inclusion. As Christians we’re called to meet people where they are and love them for who there are, through every season of life.”

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