Published 3rd December 2010, 12:30pm
Message from Hon. Rolston Anglin, JP, Minister of Education, Training and Employment For International Day of Persons with Disabilities Friday, 3 December 2010 "I have no legs, but I still have feelings. I cannot see, but I think all the time. Although I'm deaf, I still want to communicate. Why do people see me as useless, thoughtless, talkless, when I am as capable as any for thoughts about our world?" These are the words of a poem written by 14-year-old Coralie Severs from the United Kingdom. Her poem speaks for millions of children and adults worldwide, who live with disabilities every day. Many face discrimination. Their abilities are overlooked, and their capacities underestimated. They don't get the education and healthcare they need, and they are excluded, oftentimes inadvertently, from many community activities. But children and adults with disabilities have the same rights as everyone else; their prerogatives to express themselves are the same as everyone else's. Even though they may have difficulty seeing, hearing, walking or remembering, they too have dreams, hopes and ideas that they want to share with their community. Since 1982, the United Nations has observed December third as the International Day of Persons with Disabilities. One may think this observance is for those with disabilities. And it is: the day focuses on how recognising the rights of persons with disabilities benefits every aspect of our political, social, economic and cultural lives. But it equally is about waking up those of us who, either consciously or unconsciously, have the "disability" of seeing persons with certain physical or mental conditions as unable to contribute positively to our society. Our local theme for 2010, It's About Ability, reflects this; and I urge you to think about exactly what these three words mean. Simply put, we are all different, and as such have different levels of ability. So if we just take time to think, we easily can rattle off a long list of persons with disabilities, who have risen above their challenges to invent, entertain and inspire. These include:
- Author Helen Keller
- Singer-songwriter Stevie Wonder
- Artist Claude Monet
- Scientists like Alexander Graham Bell, Thomas Edison and Albert Einstein
- Actors like Michael J. Fox, Christopher Reeve and Tom Cruise.