11 December 2012

Gambia: 'Change Your Perception About Disability'

The Director of Disability Africa, Mr. Ric Law, said society must change its perception of disability in order to improve the lives of persons with disabilities and ensure their inclusion into the mainframe society.

Ric made these remarks shortly after the celebrations marking World Disability Day held in Gunjur, Kombo South District.

"Disabled people are disabled twice by their physical impairment, the ignorance and the stigma the society has always attached to disabled people" he said.

"Not only do disabled people have the right to be included in the society but the society benefits from the process of their inclusion in very real ways", he opined

He added that he brought four people with disabilities with him from the Stepping Stones School in the United Kingdom who, he said, started a campaign called 'Smile at me not my disability.'

"When they did that I was struck by how powerful it was in changing the way people think about disability. They came here to talk to the people of Gunjur on World Disability Day, about disability which I hope will change the way people think about them", he stated.

Ric continued that the day was a great success, adding that his biggest impression was to see mothers of so many disabled children feeling proud of their children. "The fact that we have these people is a tremendous boost to Gunjur Inclusion Project. We were also honoured with the presence of British High Commissioner David Morley, Director of Social Welfare and Director of Tango", said Ric.

The Gunjur Inclusion Project, he maintained, wants to improve outcomes for persons with disability thus making somewhere for them and making them feel included in mainframe society.

"We have come up with a play scheme for children with disabilities in Gunjur which brings together 14-18 young people who come to learn about and be friends with disabled people. I have heard it said in The Gambia that play is a waste of time for kids and they should rather be working which I disagree with. It is during play that children develop communication skills, social interaction, physical coordination and confidence. I am moved that some of the non-disabled people are now saying to me they have realized that persons with disabilities are human beings. These non-disabled people will go back to their families and tell them their experience which I believe will potentially change the perception of society", he concluded.

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