KJIPUKTUK (Halifax) – Everyone, no matter whether you are a person who lives with a disability or not, deserves a place to belong. Everyone deserves a community of good friends.
Recently Robert Devet of the Nova Scotia Advocate posted a weekend video titled The Inclusion Project. It sends a strong message why everybody should be included in the community. Anyway I recommend watching the video. I ask my readers to click on the link and enjoy.
Tammy Parker, the person in this video, is a real example of a person with a disability with good independent living skills as well as excellent social skills.
This video shows first-hand evidence that persons with a disability of any type can live independently. This video sends a strong message that persons with disabilities should not be stigmatised.
It was me watching this video that has inspired me to write this article.
Community inclusion for persons with disabilities is something I have been passionate about for a long time. As for the person in this video, Tammy Parker grew up having cerebral palsy. Nonetheless she lived her life independently, had her own apartment, ran her own business, and people in her community got to know her well and accepted her for who she was.
I myself have a great deal of respect for this person. When she passed away, it was great loss to her community. She brought a lot to her community.
However community inclusion of persons with disabilities takes more than just getting rid of disability stigma. It also takes the government to offer better living allowance amounts and creating better policies.
I mean policies that are different and better than the current policies. It should be about creating ways to get them out of poverty, and protecting them from having to live in poverty as well. It is also about supports for persons with disabilities being available in the community.
One thing I will say is that during my years of being involved in advocating to end poverty I have talked to many persons with disabilities who told me that they are not happy about feeling condemned to live that way.
They shared with me that they feel that way because of the limited allowances that they receive living on income assistance. Better living allowances are needed all around.
This is why I hope the minister of Community Services is paying attention to this article.
Community inclusion means being a part of their communities, Teaching others in their communities to accept them, living independently, participating in community/social activities. It means living life to its fullest, and for those who can – gaining employment, at least part time, or doing volunteer work.
Perhaps this is where creating a college or university level course to teach people who do not have disabilities in the community about disabilities related studies would be beneficial.
If more opportunity for persons with disabilities to live independently, then places like Quest and other institutions which my Nova Scotia Advocate editor Robert Devet has talked about in some of his past articles would not even be needed in the first place.
People with disabilities often do not have access to public spaces because of physical barriers. However this problem could be fixed with proper equipment in place such as grab bars installed in bathrooms, wheelchair ramps, and access to walking support equipment such as crutches.
Inclusion should also include improving the health of persons with disabilities. Most persons who live with disabilities can achieve living healthy lives as long as the right supports are in place for them. But there should be guidance to help them understand what their rights are.
Community inclusion should also include the opportunity to engage in social activities, using public resources such as transportation and libraries, moving about within communities, receiving adequate health care, having relationships, enjoying other day-to-day activities, and for those who can achieve getting out of poverty – get out of poverty.
Keep in mind that not all persons with disabilities have the ability or capacity to hold down full time employment. Some cannot work at all.
Inclusion also means that the community has to understand that there is a difference between visible and invisible disabilities. What I have, impulse control and learning disability, those disabilities are invisible.
People who live with disabilities bring a lot to the table.We should not exclude them from being a part of the day-to-day lives in their communities.
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