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Celebrate Friday, 3 December 2010 as International Day of Persons with Disabilities

Published 3rd December 2010, 11:50am

According to United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, some 650 million people worldwide -- approximately 10 per cent of the world's population -- are living with physical, mental or sensory disabilities. He also notes that 20 per cent of the world's poor are persons with disabilities who, because of their situation, suffer high rates of unemployment and often lack access to adequate education and healthcare. For these reasons among others the United Nations, through UN Enable, has committed to improving the lives of persons with disabilities (PWDs). As part of that effort International Day of Persons with Disabilities has been observed on 3 December worldwide since 1981. This year the local theme "It's About Ability" focuses both on the rights of persons living with disabilities in our community and on their ability to make positive contributions to our society. In his International Day of Persons with Disabilities message, Education, Training & Employment Minister, the Hon. Rolston Anglin noted that regardless of ability everyone can make a difference. He highlights differently-abled local athletes like Andrew Smiley and Cindy Whittaker who have done remarkably well despite their limitations, and makes reference to the Special Olympics football team that won gold in the Special Olympics Jamaica Invitational Football Competition earlier this year. Encouraging everyone to protect and support the rights of PWDs, he suggests the development of inclusive rather than exclusive attitudes. "In the Cayman Islands, and around the world, International Day for Persons with Disabilities promotes an attitude of inclusion, rather than one of exclusion," he said. "I ask every person in our community to challenge themselves to think and act in a way that recognises the rights of persons living with disabilities. "Simple actions, such as leaving disabled parking spots for those who really need them; educating ourselves about the needs of persons with disabilities; or taking a little more time, if needed, when working or socialising with physically and mentally challenged citizens, can help everyone contribute in our society." To celebrate the day, schools across the Cayman Islands have organised special disability focused activities including dress-down days, school assemblies, and talent and fashion shows. Two GIS Spotlight segments, airing in December, will also showcase accessibility issues faced by PWDs within the Cayman Islands. For information on the international celebration and suggestions on things to do to reduce the impact of the challenges faced by PWDs, visit www.un.org/disabilities or www.ilo.org/disability. Also, local Government's efforts to ensure the rights of PWDs are outlined in the Planning the Future for Persons with Disabilities in the Cayman Islands Legal Sub-Committee Report on www.education.gov.ky. (GIS)