October 30th, 2020

International day brings awareness to people with disabilities


By Bobinec, Greg on December 4, 2019.

Participants listen to the YMCAs Ross Jacobs talk about the accessible features of the new westside facility during an event celebrating the International Day of Persons with Disabilities Tuesday at Casa. Herald photo by Ian Martens @IMartensHerald

Greg Bobinec

Lethbridge Herald

gbobinec@lethbridgeherald.com

The community joined together Tuesday to celebrate and raise awareness for persons with disabilities and the issues that impact their life.

People gathered in the city, province and internationally to speak and learn through various events for International Day of Persons with Disabilities. In Lethbridge, nearly 100 participants gathered at Casa to see what local organizations and the City have been doing to make the community more functional and welcoming for those with disabilities.

“International Day of Persons with Disabilities is a United Nations event,” says Dylan Adkins, committee chair, International Day of Persons with Disabilities. “On December 3 it is held across the world, we are part of the provincial committee, and right now across Alberta there are events going on throughout the day and evening to celebrate our communities and how inclusive we can make them. Today we are having some presentations; our theme this year is ‘new decade, new direction,’ so we are looking at what the City of Lethbridge and organizations within the city are planning on providing for the citizens of Lethbridge.”

Over the last few years, the City, along with many businesses have made changes to their locations to make buildings more accessible and user friendly. From removing stairs or adding ramps, to sound-emitting crosswalks, Adkins says the City is moving in the right direction toward removing barriers many face daily.

“I think with how the City has managed in making sure the city is inclusive and as barrier-free as possible, I think the City has done a great job in making those steps. We would like them to go further, but as of right now they have done an awesome job at making sure this city and our community is as inclusive and welcoming as possible,” says Adkins. “There are so many different disabilities in the area and it is hard to say what one barrier could be for one person, but just making sure we are making the city visible is very important so that there are less curbs and stairs throughout the city. With our aging population that becomes more and more important.”

Participants heard from local organizations such as YMCA, members from the Mobility Master Plan, and the Lethbridge Diversity and Inclusion Alliance who shared their actions and ideas on how they have or are looking at improving the community. Adkins says awareness is a huge part in understanding barriers people with disabilities face, and the community is a great supporter for spreading the message.

“Raising the awareness towards what people with disabilities face every day and the barriers, that just makes such a big difference, as well and the City of Lethbridge has done a great job of that. We are hoping in this new decade here that their direction keeps moving that way,” says Adkins. “I have been working on this committee for 10 years. We have a good core group of people that have worked, and the support we get from the community is amazing, and this is one of the best events that I have been a part of because of how it shows how inclusive and welcoming the community can be.”

Tuesday evening, the best of the city was recognized during the fifth annual Lethbridge Inclusion Awards, which recognizes businesses, individuals, and community groups who make Lethbridge a more welcoming and inclusive place for those with disabilities.

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