Each December 3, we mark International Day of Persons with Disabilities (IDPWD) on our calendars. It’s a significant date for us at the Rick Hansen Foundation (RHF) as people worldwide unite to recognize the achievements, contributions, and challenges faced by those with disabilities.
IDPWD gained international recognition in 1992 when the United Nations (UN) declared it a day of observance. Every year, the UN selects a theme aligned with current issues; this year, it is “United in action to rescue and achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for, with and by persons with disabilities.”
Amid current global crises, overall progress made toward SDGs related to disability has stagnated. Collaboration is essential to propel these goals forward, particularly given the historical marginalization of individuals with disabilities, often leaving them the furthest behind.
In this age of interconnectedness, we acknowledge the shared humanity that binds us. By exchanging success stories around inclusive policies and programs with other nations, we can collectively promote empathy, understanding, and acceptance. These are not just principles for disability inclusion; they are pillars upon which our society can thrive. We can all take action to ensure that the 1.3 billion people in the world who have a significant disability have equality of opportunity. As every small act contributes to building forward momentum, RHF is delighted to offer the following ways you can commemorate IDPWD:
Power Up Your Awareness
Our The Power of Inclusion live webinar series are enlightening conversations that have the power to affect meaningful change in attitudes and environments. Our panel discussion titled The Power of Inclusive Allyship was held in honour of IDPWD 2022 and featured an incredible line-up of participants including Dr. Karen Keddy, Laetitia Mfamobani, Dr. Rheanna Robinson, and Spencer van Vloten. If you haven’t already, check out the recording of The Power of Inclusive Allyship. It will be well worth your time. As one attendee said following the panel: “I will continue to advocate for accessibility and inclusion – but ask more questions about how to improve collaboration and recognize my bias and privilege when coming to these conversations.” Recordings of our other panels are also available. We invite you to discover The Power of an Inclusive Mindset, The Power of Inclusive Workplaces, and The Power of Inclusive Language.
Expand Your Knowledge of Accessibility
If you want to learn how to create welcoming spaces, consider taking RHF Inclusion and Accessibility Training. This interactive one-hour online course focuses on a person-centered approach to creating inclusive spaces for people with disabilities to promote the ability to live, work, and play independently, safely, and with dignity. Featuring leaders in inclusion and accessibility and people with lived experience, this self-directed, on-demand course is offered in partnership with the University of Alberta. Participants will receive a certificate of completion.
Yes, Youth Can Make a Difference
When Rick Hansen set out on his epic Man In Motion World Tour, he earned the moniker the Man In Motion as he undertook his two-year, two-month, and two-day journey around the world in his wheelchair to showcase the potential of people with disabilities.
Inspired by Rick’s belief that everyone has the potential to make a difference, the RHFSP Difference Maker of the Year award celebrates and recognizes youth between the ages of 5 to 18 who are leaders in making a positive impact for inclusion and accessibility either in their schools or the broader community. The awards are also open to classroom and youth group projects.
Individual award recipients will receive $500 while chosen classroom and group projects will win $1,000.
Whether projects are entered into the awards or not, whether they receive formal recognition or not, this is secondary to the profound impact they leave in their wake. The act of nurturing positive change is at the heart of these contributions – a testament to the enduring legacy of hope that traces back to when Rick set off on his historic journey around the world.
Nominations for the 2024 Difference Maker of the Year awards open January 7, 2024. We invite you to start by downloading the Difference Maker Starter Kit from our website.
Read Books by Authors with Disabilities
There is so much richness, joy, and creativity in lived experiences. Reading books by authors with disabilities is important as it provides diverse perspectives and challenges stereotypes. It allows for a more inclusive understanding of the human experience and goes a long way to promoting a society that values and respects the voices of people of varying abilities.
RHF supports authors with disabilities who write about their experiences by publishing reading lists. Please check out our Autumn 2023 Reading List on our website for some great titles, including ‘My Body and Other Crumbling Empires’ by Lyndsay Medford and ‘Care Work: Dreaming Disability Justice’ by Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha. We also feature a youth-oriented reading list. Learn more about titles such as ‘Bodies are Cool’ by Tyler Feder and ‘Zoom!’ by Robert Munsch and illustrator Michael Martchenko.
Support the Work of RHF
RHF envisions a society that embraces cultural and physical accessibility, understanding that changes to attitudes, policies and practices are needed to support truly inclusive communities. We invite everyone who shares our belief in creating a world where everyone can thrive and realize their full potential to join our movement. Please consider giving the gift of access this IDPWD to help us create tangible change.