Derry City and Strabane District Council, in partnership with the Western Health and Social Care Trust and the Public Health Agency, have hosted a special week long programme of events around the City and District to mark International Celebration of Persons with Disabilities Day.
Events showcased the Council area’s commitment to access and inclusion and included the official launch in the Guildhall with spectacular and emotive performances from Stage Beyond, Dance Inclusion and Sarah Jane Murray from Knockavoe School in Strabane.
A 250 strong audience in the Foyle Arena watched inspirational showcases from a range of speakers and performers from the physical and sensory disability community along with information stalls from a range of stakeholders.
The week included the launch of a changing place facility in A Space 2 in Campsie (formerly known as Artspace), a Disability Ambassador Training Celebration in the Holywell Trust with Libraries NI and Disability Equality NI supported by Year of Youth 19.
The busy week included the Foyle Deaf choir performing in the Millennium Forum before the ISL/BSL signed performance of Snow White and The Seven Dwarfs Pantomime.
The Christmas spirit continued in Waterside Theatre with a relaxed performance of Aladdin and the newly established silent disco with DJ Oliver in Gasyard.
The Mayor, Councillor Michaela Boyle, said the events highlighted Council’s commitment to access and inclusion across the City and District.
“International Celebration of Persons with Disabilities Week has been the largest event of its kind in the North to promote access and inclusion with six strategic partners involved,” she said.
“As a Council we are continuously committed to ensuring access and inclusion is at the forefront in all that we do, so that we promote and facilitate equal opportunity for all.
“It really was a powerful week with a range of programming and so pleasing to witness huge turnouts at the many events in DCSDC area.”
A spokesperson for WHSCT added: “The aim of the Disability Week was to empower people with information and thereby break down barriers and develop working relationships that will contribute to positive outcomes for individuals with a disability and their carers.
“It is acknowledged that one in five people in Northern Ireland have a recognised disability and that the majority of people who access the physical disability and mental health services have support from unpaid carers.
“Our ambition is to enable people who experience disability and or mental health to gain positive outcomes - to be ‘enabled together’.
“To achieve this we promote a person-centred, strengths-based model grounded on the principles of inclusion and accessibility.”
Access and Inclusion Officer at Derry City and Strabane District Council, Louise Boyce, thanked all the delivery partners including PHA, WHSCT, DfC, Libraries NI, Now Group and the Equality Commission NI who all supported the delivery of the programme throughout the week.
“We want to take this opportunity to congratulate all venues, businesses and initiatives that were highlighted within the programme for their ongoing work to ensure our pan disability community, their families and their carers have the opportunities to make informed choices for their wellbeing and day to day life experience,” she said.
We will continue to work towards meeting this aim by applying a community development approach that is underpinned by a collaborative, partnership working model that has been highly successful this year and we are aware that there is much more work to do, but we cannot deny that this week has been a true testament to community planning in action.
Full details of Council’s Access and Inclusion services are available at www.derrystrabane.com/inclusion.
If you would like further information on the Access and Inclusion Project please contact by email: firstname.lastname@example.org or phone/ text 07713707912.
Pictures: Martin McKeown
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