Friday 3 December 2010

International Day for Disabled Persons

My son Nicholas was born in Canada, but lives with us in London, England. He has visited a total of four countries. Nicholas has severe, multiple disabilities. If asked whether he speaks french, he will answer "Oui" and laugh. Nick has carers who hail from Brazil, Australia, Slovakia, England, the Philippines, and Italy.

Recently, Nick had surgery to replace a computerized spinal cord pain pump that was made in the USA. His original pump was implanted in Canada with a mixture of medications that had only been tried in the United States. Last month, the hospital pharmacist, who is from Poland, managed to locate the anaesthic pump medicine in the dose we needed here in the UK, so I don't have to order it in from Canada anymore.

Nick is happy to be home from hospital because here, he can watch his television which is connected to his computer, allowing him to watch NHL ice hockey. He can also watch his favourite American TV shows, "Family Guy" and "The Price is Right".

Currently, he is excited that his sister Natalie is coming home soon from the University of Toronto for Christmas. Natalie is majoring in Diaspora and Transnational Studies at Trinity College, University of Toronto.

On this International Day for Disabled Persons, let us celebrate internationalism, innovation and the sharing of excellence in models of inclusion. With technology and travel, the world is getting smaller. This week, my colleagues in the disability advocacy movement shared horrendous images of the abuse of people with disabilities who are institutionalized in countries where visable differences are terribly stigmatized. But social media also allowed me to see that my friend and former child soldier from Sudan launched a festival of sharing and performance in Nairobi that includes people with disabilities. There is hope and joy in diversity. Let's get to know each other better!

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