5 December 2019
International Day for Persons with Disabilities (IDPWD) is recognised each year on 3 December, and is a day used to promote an understanding of disability issues and mobilise support for the dignity, rights and wellbeing of persons with disabilities.
This year’s theme was ‘The Future is Accessible’ – meaning we must all, together, look toward a future where the barriers that stand in people’s way no longer exist.
In recognition of IDPWD, St Helena’s Active Participation in Enterprise (SHAPE), supported by the Children & Adults Social Care Directorate, organised a parade through Jamestown to celebrate and raise awareness of disability.
The parade started from Barracks Square on Tuesday, 3 December, at around 11am. Participants were dressed in and vehicles decorated in blue and orange. The colour blue symbolises support for the dignity, rights and wellbeing of people with disability, and orange symbolises the inclusion of people with disability in all aspects of political, social, economic and cultural life.
The parade made a brief stop outside of the Standard Bar where participants sang two songs – ‘Love My Life’ by Robbie Williams and ‘This is me’ by Keala Settle. The public was encouraged to join in. Chairperson of SHAPE, Lolly Young, also gave a short speech. She said:
“Let’s take our wheelchair users for example, let’s stop and think for a minute, what is it that is impairing their lives? Is it the fact that they may have a parallelises? Is it that their only mobility is through the use of a wheelchair?
“If we pondered this thought, we would soon realise that the wheelchair is not impairing them, in fact it is liberating them, giving them the ability to move. So what then is the impairment? What then is disabling them? It’s the fact that they can’t access vehicles, use roads and streets, enter buildings. It is this that is the biggest barrier to them leading a full inclusive life. Sometimes it’s attitudes, or social views.
“So today, at least, let these colours be a reminder that if we all work collectively with the shared understanding and view that if we remove those environmental and social barriers the future will certainly be more accessible for those living with disabilities.”
Blue and orange merchandise, including candles, pom-pom key rings and mini hand washes, all handcrafted by SHAPE were on-sale during the parade.
The parade concluded at the Mule Yard where participants enjoyed refreshments and musical entertainment.
Community & Residential Disabilities Manager, Nicolene Adams, concluded:
“The Children & Adults Social Care Directorate wish to congratulate SHAPE management, staff and all participants on a very successful and enjoyable IDPWD. It was amazing and humbling all at the same time to witness participants on frames, in wheelchairs and others arm in arm parading proudly down the street of Jamestown echoing the words ‘I am powerful, I am beautiful, I am free, I love my life, I am wonderful, I am magical, I am me’. Thank you also to the family members and members of the community who joined with us in the celebrations for the day.
“This day affirms this well-known quote: ‘The human spirit is one of ability, perseverance and courage that no disability can steal away’”.
#StHelena #IDPWD #SHAPE #C&ASCD
5 December 2019