By Lethbridge Herald on September 29, 2018.
The late Kevin Layton among those who overcame obstacles
Role models from Lethbridge and beyond were cited Friday, leading off a downtown “march with a message.”
The late Kevin Layton, a longtime candidate for city council, and “Man in Motion” Rick Hansen were held up as examples of Canadians who overcame their disabilities. Their legacy was involved as nearly 100 southern Albertans prepared to take their message to the streets.
“Weaving Your Own Path” was the theme of this year’s event, organized by the South Region Self Advocacy Network, in partnership with the Southern Alberta Individualized Planning Association.
Chris Schamber, paralyzed while still a teenager, was featured speaker at a City Hall rally before marchers started off toward Galt Gardens. He reminded the audience of Hansen, a British Columbia man who toured the Great Wall of China in a wheelchair as part of his world-wide awareness initiative.
The late British scientist Stephen Hawking serves as an inspiration as well, he said. Schamber said doctors predicted Hawking would live just two years longer when he was diagnosed with ALS in 1963. But he was still active and recognized around the world 50 years later.
“Never give up,” was the lesson Schamber took from those examples.
“We all have the ability to do good things in our communities,” he said.
Another speaker, Dory Rossiter, saluted the example set by Layton, who frequently brought accessibility issues to public awareness.
“He never stopped reminding the city” about the importance of making public places and facilities fully accessible to everyone, regardless of physical ability.
“I think he was a winner, and he was successful after all.”
Melody Scout, a member of the event planning committee, welcomed the crowd to the City Hall steps. By “weaving your own path,” she said, individuals can “make choices that help us become the best we can be.”
“Weaving your own path is important because (people with disabilities) often don’t get to make decisions,” explained Ben Rowley, chair of the planning committee.
“A lot of people with disabilities are sheltered, so it’s hard to learn and grow,” he said.
“This is about showing people that they can achieve their dreams, even though it might take a little longer to get there.”
The event concluded with a talent show — song, rapping, dancing, art works — in Galt Gardens along with a barbecue.
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