Thursday, 3 December marked the UN International Day of Persons with Disabilities. The theme for 2015 was “Inclusion Matters” – Access and Empowerment for People of all Abilities.
Persons with disabilities must be able to fulfil their role in society and participate on an equal basis with others. It is important to focus on the ability and not on the disability of an individual.
Often, the image of people with disabilities is impacted by attitudes based on stigma and discrimination, as well as outdated perceptions about disability and persons with disabilities that are often the greatest barrier to their full and equal participation in society and development on an equal basis with others.
It is important to note that disability is part of the human condition, and that all of us either are or will become disabled to one degree or another during the course of our lives.
The NZ Human Rights Commission led a campaign to celebrate the International Day of Persons with Disabilities by sending out orange wristbands with the phrase “Inclusion Matters” printed on each one. NZ Post sponsored all mail outs. The idea was for people to wear the wrist bands and distribute them to the wider community as a way to celebrate the day.
Events were held nationwide to commemorate the day, from special morning teas and cultural fun days, to celebrating through the Annual Attitude Awards.
We were privileged to support and attend the Spectrum Care Pacific Cultural Christmas Celebrations at the Takitumu Hall in Mangere Bridge. We were also very fortunate to participate in the Tongan kava ceremony to open formalities for the day. This is an annual event, planned by Spectrum Care for People with disabilities to participate and embrace their culture through food, arts and crafts, music, dance and cultural performances. Spectrum Care, like many other Disability Support Services, aims to work towards a fully inclusive society.
By promoting inclusion and empowerment, real opportunities for people are created. This enhances their own capacities and supports them in setting their own priorities. Empowerment involves investing in people – in jobs, health, nutrition and education.
When people are empowered they are better prepared to make the most of their opportunities; they become agents of change. We all play a role in making inclusion matter! Inclusion in our churches, in our communities and through our culture. Are you doing yours?
Ofa ke mou ma’u ha kilisimasi Fiefia mo ha ta’u fo’ou mo
Ofa atu moe Lotu