December 3rd marks the International Day of Persons with Disabilities. This day gives us pause to consider how each of us can make an impact on those in our personal lives and greater circles with actions both big and small. Below are some ways we can all give back, self-reflect, and make changes to be better advocates and allies to those with disabilities.
The gift of time is one of the most thoughtful ways to give back and get involved in your local community. Being present at events across schools, workplaces, and the community brings people together, expands knowledge and understanding, and provides helpful resources to organizations. If your children are at the age in which they can attend as well, we strongly suggest bringing them along. Volunteering builds empathy, expands viewpoints, helps develop personal and interpersonal skills, and increases compassion. To find events near you, head to: IDPWD Events Calendar
In addition to time, organizations are also in need of resources. Non-profit organizations are built on donations and volunteers, and cannot continue without them. When selecting which organizations to donate to, always do your research. There are many resources and tools available to help you make sure you are making the most of your financial gift.
Another way to give back is to be an advocate and ally for those around you. Speak up and speak out for marginalized groups. Continue to educate yourself and help others find resources and information they need. Don't be afraid to ask questions of those in power and ask those around you how best you can support them.
In addition to advocating, we should also model inclusivity in our daily lives. Words are powerful. Make sure to use person-first language (child with dyslexia), do not hyper focus on the disability, do not make assumptions and generalizations, and avoid victimizing the person (ex: they're special or inspirational).
When hosting events or gatherings such as your child's birthday party or playdates, be mindful of your spaces and activities. Keep activities in accessible locations and create a variety of crafts and games that honor sensory differences. For example, if you're having a dance party in one room, offer a quiet craft activity in another area for a change of pace. Also, remember not all disabilities are visible. Don't be afraid to reach out to your guests' parents if you have questions.
The theme for 2021 is "Fighting for rights in the post-COVID era." While we acknowledge the extra barriers and challenges COVID-19 has brought to people who live with disabilities, we also want to celebrate an age of increased access. With the whole world on pause, many school, work, and social functions quickly converted to digital formats. For many students and people with disabilities this opened up opportunities which they might not have been provided in the past. Many limitations and challenges were lifted or lessened. For example, those with high levels of social anxiety had more access to virtual events they could attend from the comfort of their homes.
The overnight shift, which quickly pivoted many things to online and remote formats, also diversified access to educational and support resources. Professionals across the globe worked tirelessly to reformat services such as occupational therapy, executive functioning coaching, learning assessments, etc.
If you or someone you know might benefit from online services, testing, or evaluations, Parallel is here to partner with you along the way.
The International Day of People with Disabilities was established in 1992 by the United Nations. According to the UN, over 1 billion people live with some form of disability. The organization aims to "promote the rights and well-being of persons with disabilities in all spheres of society and development, and to increase awareness of the situation of persons with disabilities in every aspect of political, social, economic and cultural life." For more information or ways to get involved, check out our additional resources below.