International Day of Persons with Disabilities (UN)
December 3rd, marks the 30th year of observance of the International Day of Persons with Disabilities. This day increases awareness and understanding of issues that face the disabled community globally and grows support for the 6.2 million Canadians who are often left behind.
Disability spans many unique groups of people. Some navigate the world proudly showing us who they are in the hopes that they will be received with kindness. They use physical accessibility equipment and innovative assistive devices while others move among us with invisible disabilities. Able to blend into a crowd but not always invited to sit at the table.
I have been afforded the opportunity to work with, grow with, and love many people who navigate the world through this unique lens, and it has changed my life in ways that I will never be able to describe or repay. Narrowing this piece down to a digestible insight has been wracking my brain, so I will say this:
Disability Rights, Inclusion, and Accessibility are Human Rights. They are parallel to the needs and wants that each of us works towards and desires every day.
We want to be loved, to succeed, to create, and to belong. We all want to be our best selves and we do not want to be underestimated.
We live with stigmas that place people in boxes and aim to divide us. Many of these relate to physical appearance and preconceived notions about what a successful life looks like. They do not consider our individuality, our vulnerabilities, and our humanity. They give us words to describe people aimed at keeping them down and reminding them that they are not welcome.
This Saturday, December third, I would ask you to look at the people you encounter daily and lean into them with empathy and kindness. Ask yourself how you can move forward with a more inclusive mindset. Challenge the barriers that you have encountered and ask yourself how you can make the journey easier for the people around you.
A charity close to my heart is the Toronto iteration of the global Charity L’Arche which aims to create opportunities for people with a disability to live autonomously, find their fit, and thrive as the unique individuals they are. Feel free to donate here.
I will leave you with this incredible Oscar-nominated short film “Free Bird” that my friend Nick Herd Creative Directed with the Toronto iteration of the global Charity L’Arche. When Nick was born, his parents were told many things about the limitations he would have in life and very little about what he would achieve. I have seen him grow as an athlete, an artist, a media personality, an actor, an advocate, and a proud uncle. He embodies what can be achieved when we ignore what we are told we can do, a push beyond the box
Your proudly outspoken, and invisibly ADHD-driven colleague,