International Day of Persons with Disabilities

Today, Dec. 3, marks the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, and this year’s theme is “Removing barriers to create an inclusive and accessible society for all.”

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon announced that the U.N. General Assembly will hold a High-Level meeting on disability and development next year.

Persons with disabilities have a significant positive impact on society, and their contributions can be even greater if we remove barriers to their participation,” Ban said. “With more than one billion persons with disabilities in our world today, this is more important than ever.”

U.S. President Barack Obama issued a declaration that “even as we partner with countries across the globe in affirming universal human rights, we know our work will not be finished until the inherent dignity and worth of all persons with disabilities is guaranteed. Today, let us renew our commitment to meeting that challenge here in the United States, and let us redouble our efforts to build new paths to participation, empowerment, and progress around the world.”

Events were planned around the world to mark the event. Click here for a listing of some of the awareness-raising activities.

One such event was in Taiwan, where differently-abled children and adults performed over the weekend, showcasing African dance, wheelchair ballroom dancing, and saxophone and jazz drum music.

Chen Yi-ming, who has Down syndrome, performed ballroom dancing with his mother, Hsu Mei-hui.

Hsu told Focus Taiwan news agency that “I hope to show other families with disabled children that these children are capable and not as difficult to teach as imagined. The point is to give them a stage.”

Another story to focus on today involves Glen Niles, a former officer in the Trinidad and Tobago Coast Guard who co-founded the Down Syndrome Family Network, which gives parents and caregivers of people with Down syndrome access to resources, support and answers.

Read an inspiring question-and-answer article with Niles at Guardian Media.

Thanks to everyone who makes awareness of issues facing the differently-abled a priority, not only today, but every day!

For more information about the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, check out this webpage from the U.N.

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