How often is physically disabled youth seen participating in organizations and events in Peel Region? Not very often.
Are there actions that organizations may take to improve their program and event accessibility for disabled individuals? Absolutely!
Studies have shown that young individuals with disabilities are among the poorest and most marginalized of the world’s youth. Worldwide, there are between 180 and 220 million youth with disabilities.
Any issues that affect the general youth apply to youth with disabilities as well, except in a far more complex way. Such issues include access to education, employment, health care, and social services. Facing discrimination, attitudes, and lack of support on a daily basis makes it even more difficult for disabled youth to attend school, find jobs, and participate in local activities. The unemployment rate of disabled individuals is over 80% in some countries around the world. Participating in social life becomes a great challenge due to physical and communication barriers as well as inaccessible environments. This is why it is essential to ensure that all youth have equal opportunities to be productive and contributing members of society. With all the amazing organizations across Peel Region, there is great potential of this occurring. Raising awareness is the first step we must take, followed by every organization’s plan on improving accessibility to ensure the comfort, support, and participation of disabled youth.
This is the reason why on November 14th, 2014 from 4-6pm, the Regional Youth Roundtable decided to take a step in the improvement of accessibility among Peel organizations by hosting their first community consultation with physically disabled individuals from the organization March Of Dimes. Approximately ten disabled individuals from March of Dimes attended this consultation to learn about opportunities in Peel Region as well as to speak out about the changes they would like to see happen. RYR happily welcomed several executive members from various youth-led organizations who came to participate in this special evening. It was a wonderful experience.
The evening started off with interesting discussions on the following topics: accessibility, community events, and employment. Discussions taught everyone many new things. The major conclusions that every group came to were regarding accessibility in every sector of life. Transportation, costs, food restrictions, locations, and clarity of information should all be taken into consideration when planning an event in order to make it as accessible as possible. Every job or event location should ensure that there is a ramp or elevator available for the use of disabled individuals. The importance of raising awareness about physical disabilities was discussed as well. In the end, every event should be universal with equal participation. Everyone should have the exact same experience, regardless of one’s physical limitations!
Following these discussions were wonderful presentations from our Roundtable member organizations who spoke about opportunities in their organizations for individuals with disabilities as well as their accessibility. It was very exciting to hear the encouragement of organizations across Peel Region for disabled youth to partake in their various events. Presenters included: Philip Manzano (United Way), Diana Simpson (Accessibility Coordinator from the City of Mississauga), LIFE Program, the Brampton Mayor’s Youth Team, Key Club, Ink Movement, Youth Peel Charity, and the Limelight Association of Young Artists. Individuals from March of Dimes were very happy to hear about opportunities in Peel Region.
Veronica, the Roundtable’s Director of Community Consultations, was proud of the outcome of the consultation she organized. “This first consultation was truly a great success and learning experience for everyone who attended, including myself. It was so much fun working with the youth and March of Dimes participants. It was even better knowing that the discussion will go towards positive change within the Peel community and ultimately a more inclusive future,” expressed Veronica as she spoke to the rest of the RYR team.
During this consultation, RYR’s Media Relations Officer, Rachel, began filming segments for her video series that will soon be coming up! During this video series, participants from March of Dimes have the chance to speak out about their thoughts and opinions regarding the issues they face. Through these videos, the Roundtable hopes they will be successful in raising awareness about various minority youth groups in the community!