Call to focus on people’s ability – not disability
The public today united to celebrate the talents and achievements of people with disabilities.
The UN International Day of Persons with Disabilities was marked with much fanfare as a music-filled motorcade made its way from the Mid-Atlantic Wellness Institute in Devonshire through the streets of Hamilton and back.
Blessed with beautiful sunshine, more that 40 people with physical, mental and intellectual disabilities boarded the Bermuda Train Company’s train to enjoy the celebratory tour.
Tinee Furbert, the Minister of Social Development and Seniors, said this year’s theme “Leadership and participation of persons with disabilities towards an inclusive, accessible and sustainable post-Covid-19 world” should not be forgotten in the years ahead.
At a brief ceremony at MWI’s New Dimension’s facility ahead of the motorcade, Ms Furbert said: “Leadership and participation are consistently needed for future progression and I look forward to all of us being responsible for the progression we desire.
“Our disabled population are often not seen and are too easily forgotten so MWI has created this amazing opportunity to utilise a motorcade to showcase them.”
LaRoya Hardtman, the clinical supervisor for MWI’s intellectual disabilities programme, said it was important that people with disabilities were visible.
She added: “We want them to be a part of the community and having the train and motorcade makes them more visible.
“People in the community get to see who they are and they get to feel the love from the community.
“My message for the community is to not focus on their disability but to focus on what they can do – our clients have a lot of talents, they have a lot to contribute to the community and they just need the opportunity to do so.”
For more pictures of the event click here.
Patrick Thomas, a client at MWI, added: “A lot of people need to focus on our abilities. By being here today we can help the community see how we operate.
“We are all excited today - we’re are going to have a great day.”
Clients from the MWI programme as well as Summerhaven Residential Home Special Olympics athletes joined in the motorcade.
Schools and organisations, including Tomorrow’s Voices autism early intervention centre, also lined the route.
Ms Hardtman said: “The clients are so excited to see everyone. With Covid, they haven’t been going out as much so this is a big thing for them.
“Today we are celebrating all disabilities, physical and mental health. People typically think about physical disabilities, those you can see, but we are celebrating people with diabetes, mental health issues – all sorts of disabilities.”