INCLUSIVITY and equality are themes community disability advocate Rebecca Paton says should be celebrated every day.
Today is officially International Day of People with a Disability, a United Nations sanctioned event. City of Ballarat hosted a lively community event at Delacombe Town Centre at the weekend in a bid to maximise public awareness, but Ms Paton hoped the themes in spotlight carried across Ballarat more than a couple of days.
“This is a great celebration and day of inclusiveness and shows what people with a disability can do, but as a community we should be more inclusive all the time,” Ms Paton said.
“It’s been lovely to see a lot of people we know through the disability community here. There’s a group of us, we just get it, what life’s like, and this is us celebrating.
“It’s also great having a day that feels completely inclusive and welcoming in the community.”
Ms Paton is the driving force behind the Vic Park inclusive playground so her daughters Hannah and Sarah, who has profound physical and mental disability, could play together in a safe place. She also runs parent support groups at Pinarc an serves on the City of Ballarat and Grampians advisory groups.
This community day, Ms Paton said, was an important way for shoppers and the general public to better understand what could be possible, and for people like Sarah to feel more welcomed.
Face-painting, games and live music created a City of Ballarat party while Showbiz Cinemas gave a free screening of Wide Angle Film Festival, a collection of short movies featuring or made by people with disability.
The event also allowed people to check out the City’s new Marveloo, a transportable adult changing place with accessible toilet. Information on other services and programs was also on hand, like Keeley’s Cause, a not-for-profit started by a Ballan-based teenager to help other children access iPads for learning.
Ms Paton said such facilities and programs were so vital to a person with a disability and their family, and this event was an important way to bring awareness to the community.
The UN’s theme for International Day of People with a Disability this year focuses on empowerment.
Centacare last week hosted an AccessAbilities workplace program, connecting clients with businesses for each to taste potential.
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