Today is December 3, the annual United Nations’ International Day of Persons with Disabilities. (What, you thought it was only National Roof-Over-Your-Head Day, National Apple Pie Day and National Ice Cream Box Day?) (I did not make these up, people.) The UN day recognizes the fact that about 15 percent of folks around the world – over a billion people in total – live with a disability.
Every year, the UN day is observed with a different theme. This year’s is “Break Barriers, Open Doors” – in other words, get rid of those pesky stairs and ancient attitudes, and try to be a tad more welcoming to your friends, co-workers and neighbours with disabilities.
It may sound like a good deed to be more considerate, open-minded and fair. Of course it is. But this is one of those kindnesses that will always circle back. A more inclusive community means a better chance that people with disabilities can contribute – by getting an education, by paying taxes, by leading positive change. Not to mention becoming a friend, actually having the opportunity to enrich your life or someone else’s life because there are no barriers at school or in the workplace or in policy or at the local bowling alley.
After all, if a certain Toronto studio theatre were not accessible 21 years ago, I wouldn’t have met the love of my life and given birth to the star of my universe.
If that isn’t life-enriching, I don’t know what is.