This week we celebrate International Day of People with Disability (IDPwD) 2020, a time to raise public awareness and understanding of people with disability and celebrate their contribution to our communities.
IDPwD is celebrated annually on 3rd December with this year’s United Nations them being: Building Back Better: toward a disability-inclusive, accessible and sustainable post COVID-19 World.
The COVID-19 pandemic has brought much disruption to our lives, with even more challenges faced by people with a disability. Interruptions to services, developmental activities and regular group meetings has increased social isolation and heightened anxiety for some people with a disability this year.
This year for IDPwD, we would like to take the opportunity to acknowledge and celebrate the resilience shown by people with disabilities in responding and adapting through the COVID-19 pandemic. This includes learning about COVID-19 and how to stay safe, embracing telehealth and online resources and utilising and understanding personal protective equipment.
An example is New Horizons, a self-advocacy group administered by EACH and led by people with disabilities to support members to become more independent. The group has been committed to staying connected virtually, with members supporting each other to accessing meeting online.
North Croydon’s Matt Dempsey, a New Horizon member and mentor for new members, says the weekly four-hour meetings provide a time for the group’s twenty members to troubleshoot.
“This is a place we come to each week and help each other to try and resolve issues, for example how we navigate public transport, or encourage a member to participate in certain activities or even working out how we can make buildings more accessible,” Mr Dempsey said.
New Horizons members have been meeting regularly online through 2020.
Mr Dempsey said the group is now meeting weekly online on Zoom, a change that he and two other members have worked together to set up.
“It’s not quite the same but we still get to talk to people you know and have a laugh,” Mr Dempsey said.
The group regularly contributes feedback to EACH’s organisational meetings and collaborates with other self-advocacy groups around Melbourne and regional Victoria to provide recommendations to conferences and meetings on issues affecting people with disability.
Mr Dempsey said, since joining the group four years ago, his confidence has grown as has his participation in his community.
“I wasn’t really social before,” Mr Dempsey said. “I didn’t really open up to people much.
“Before if someone asked me if I wanted to do an activity, I would have knocked it back but now I want to be involved. And I try to make the space for other people to get involved too.”
We also celebrate the resilience of children with developmental delays and disabilities along with their families. They too have met the challenge of continuing to engage with services and activates online ensuring they continue focusing on their goals.
Families continue to access services online through 2020.
At EACH, we continue to promote and support children’s participation in family and community life in ways that support and strengthen the child’s abilities and which improve child and family quality of life. Despite the disruptions created by a pandemic, our services have committed to improving children’s capacities to fully participate in life.
This year our Early Childhood Early Intervention Teams are inviting everyone across the whole community – children, parents, grandparents, our preschools, schools and local services, businesses and organisations – to help us raise awareness by creating paper chains and hanging them in your school, centre, office, business, on your fence, letterbox, in your window or wherever you can!
Download and print your paper chain and instructions at www.idpwd.com.au/resources/for-kids/.
Learn more about International Day of People with Disability and view resources at www.idpwd.com.au.