S Africans urged to support people living with disabilities

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Pretoria - Northern Cape Premier Sylvia Lucas has urged South Africans to commit to every initiative aimed at supporting people with disabilities.

Speaking during the launch of Disability Rights Awareness Month on Sunday at Mittah Seperepere Convention Centre in Kimberley, Lucas said people living with disabilities continued to “inspire us to appreciate life, regardless of their challenges”.

“In most instances they do remarkable things which many able-bodied people cannot do. In spite of the limitation of the necessary resources to make things simple for them, they still strive to succeed - at times, without the assistance of other people.

“We should always understand that no person ever chose to live with disability and it will be wrong to judge any person because of his or her disability,” Lucas said.

South Africa celebrates National Disability Rights Awareness Month annually between 3 November and 3 December. December 3 marks the International Day of Persons with Disabilities. This day is also celebrated as National Disability Rights Awareness Day.

The observance of the day aims to promote an understanding of disability issues and mobilise support for the dignity, rights and well-being of persons with disabilities.

Lucas also called on South Africans to act with vigour to improve the quality of life for people with disabilities and further act to break down the barriers that prevent them from achieving their full potential.

“We must not only care about people with disabilities because it is Disability Month, but we should forever know that caring for those who need our utmost assistance cannot be replaced or postponed. We must be available to help people with disability without expecting any reward.

“Those who volunteer their services in various centres are true heroes, who deserve words of appreciation and admiration. We are indebted to such people for they go an extra step in supporting people living with disability,” Lucas said.

Lucas noted that one of the first actions of the democratic government was to place the issues, concerns and affairs of disabled persons in the Office of the Premier.

“As a government, our caring attitude to disabled persons is underpinned by our commitment to society and our Constitution that values human dignity, equality and the development to full capacity of all citizens, including disabled persons.

“During this month, we will be raising awareness through practical action to educate our people about norms and standards that guide processes that are aimed at improving the quality of life of persons with disabilities. And through such standards, we should be in a good position to ensure the participation of persons with disabilities in various sectors of the society.”

The National Disability Rights Awareness Month 2013 campaign aims to:

•Report back to communities on progress made in the implementation of policies, programmes and legislation that seek to improve the quality of life of persons with disabilities;

•Engage on public platforms to explore and showcase innovative ways and means by which barriers to the inclusion of persons with disabilities and their families can be removed; and

•Provide an opportunity to reflect on the first 20 years of democracy and its impact on the lives of South Africans with disabilities.

The month-long campaign is partnership driven, providing an opportunity for government, the private sector and civil society to engage with the public and report back to communities on progress made in the implementation of policies, programmes and legislation that seek to improve the quality of life of persons with disabilities. – SAnews.gov.za

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