INTERNATIONAL DAY OF PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES: Salesian Missions highlights programs that promote inclusivity
(MissionNewswire) Salesian Missions joins the United Nations in honoring International Day of People with Disabilities. Since its inception in 1945, the United Nations has outlined and reiterated its commitment to calling for the creation of inclusive, accessible and sustainable societies and communities. In 1981, the United Nations proclaimed Dec. 3 as a recognized day for the celebration of the achievements of people living with disabilities across the world.
It is also a day to promote awareness of the challenges faced by the more than 1 billion people – that’s roughly 15 percent of the global population – living with disabilities, and the role communities and societies play in accelerating the eradication of barriers to social inclusion, equity, participation and citizenship.
This year’s theme is “Empowering persons with disabilities and ensuring inclusiveness and equality” and focuses on empowering persons with disabilities for an inclusive, equitable and sustainable development as part of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
The UN notes, “The 2030 Agenda pledges to ‘leave no one behind.’ Persons with disabilities, as both beneficiaries and agents of change, can fast track the process towards inclusive and sustainable development and promote resilient society for all, including in the context of disaster risk reduction and humanitarian action, and urban development. Governments, persons with disabilities and their representative organizations, academic institutions and the private sector need to work as a ‘team’ to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).”
“Children living in poverty with a disability are even less likely to attend school when compared to their peers,” says Father Mark Hyde, director of Salesian Missions, the U.S. development arm of the Salesians of Don Bosco. “Youth with disabilities have the same ability to achieve as their peers if given the opportunity. Salesian missionaries in programs around the globe initiate projects that pave the way for advanced research, learning and innovation that helps aid inclusion of people with disabilities.”
Salesian Missions is proud to highlight Salesian programs that advance inclusivity for persons with disabilities.
More than 60 children with disabilities and special needs from the Don Bosco Institute in São Paulo, Brazil, recently took part in the Gira Mondo project facilitated by the Hippotherapy Research and Development Center, the Horse Police Regiment and the São Paulo Military Police. Hippotherapy is the use of horseback riding as a therapeutic and rehabilitative treatment to improve coordination, balance and strength. This is the third time these groups have collaborated to facilitate this project.
It is estimated that there are more than 24 million people in Brazil with some kind of disability. In 2008, Brazil ratified the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities as well as the Optional Protocol. In an effort to defend and guarantee decent living conditions for all people with disabilities, the Convention systematically monitors the situation and day-to-day advances in human rights, enabling Brazil to report its situation and to recognize, with courage, that despite the work done to date, there still remains much to do.
Salesian missionaries provide education, workforce development and social services across Brazil and focus specifically on children with disabilities in several programs. Missionaries work to help poor youth, including street children, have their basic needs met and gain an education and the life skills and employment necessary to break the cycle of poverty and lead productive lives.
Don Bosco Technical School Kep/Hatrans, located in southern Cambodia, has completed changes to the school’s buildings and dormitories to ensure they are accessible for students with physical disabilities. In January 2015, Don Bosco Tech was awarded a grant from the Office of American Schools and Hospitals Abroad at the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) to help facilitate this work. The school has also received funding to aid this construction from Don Bosco Bonn and the Sawasdee Foundation.
Don Bosco Kep, which has 250 students, 40 of whom live at the school, began welcoming students with disabilities in 2013. School administrators knew that the campus was not as accessible as it could be for the new students to access all of their classes. Often students would have to rely on their friends for assistance getting to classrooms on higher floors and into dormitory living, making them feel like a burden.
With the 2015 USAID funding, Don Bosco Kep made modifications to the school including the installation of elevators in the main buildings, the construction of ramps to access areas for community gatherings and the creation of a student and teacher residence with all of the modifications that will allow those with physical disabilities to live and attend school independently. The funding also supported the creation of accessible bathrooms and the purchase of equipment to improve the learning environment for youth with disabilities.
Don Bosco University in San Salvador, El Salvador will empower the next generation of medical rehabilitation practitioners to transform the lives of people with mobile disabilities thanks to a new grant from USAID’s American Schools and Hospitals Abroad (ASHA) program secured by Salesian Missions. The new “Walking Anew!” project will help to expand and upgrade the facilities at the Don Bosco University’s School of Rehabilitation Science as well as the equipment used to train medical rehabilitation professionals. The project will also pioneer innovative techniques in the treatment of people with disabilities.
Don Bosco University is one of the most prestigious institutions of higher education in the country, particularly in the technical and technological sector. The university has close to 6,000 students and maintains a strong link to the local employment sector through research, technology transfer programs, continuing education courses and consultancy services. Degree programs include engineering, social sciences, humanities, economics, technology and aeronautics.
The “Walking Anew!” project will launch with the construction of a two-story building that will hold new and expanded laboratories, practice centers and classrooms on the first floor and a new Applied Research Center for collaboration with the U.S. on the second floor. The new building will implement photovoltaic electricity to promote conscientious energy use and reduce carbon emissions at the global level and will be constructed under LEED parameters of the U.S. Green Building Council.
The project will entail the acquiring of new and modern equipment for SRS laboratories that teach and apply rehabilitation techniques for people with disabilities and the upgrade of 50 percent of the current technology. Four laboratories will be updated including an existing mobility laboratory and an orthotics and prosthetics laboratory and a new podiatry laboratory as well as a new specialized practice laboratory.
The “Walking Anew!” project will also establish an Applied Research Center for innovation within the parameters of educational and medical practice. The center will stimulate and enable the exchange of knowledge and experience with scholarly and medical centers in the U.S. and will include an information center dedicated to researching health issues specifically related to the rehabilitation of people with disabilities, orthotics and prosthetics, material science, physical medicine and medical innovations across Central and South America. Subscriptions to databases and digital libraries related to rehabilitation will be available for use by professors, students, researchers and health personnel. Center users will also have access to medical magazines edited in the U.S.
Salesian missionaries at the CETPRO Santo Domingo Savio Technical Center in Lima, Peru, provide training for young people with disabilities. They have also launched an awareness campaign to bring more attention to the abilities of those living with a disability in the country. According to the National Council for the Integration of People with Disabilities, about 1.5 million Peruvians have some kind of disability. That means nearly 5 percent of the total population lives with some limitation in moving, seeing, feeling, understanding or communicating.
The CETPRO Center houses hundreds of young people and provides a family home for youth and an oratory that welcomes both boys and girls. The center works in cooperation with the Don Bosco Foundation of Peru and the Share Campaign of the Peruvian Episcopal Conference to train youth with special educational needs. Through this campaign, several young people with sensory disabilities benefit from being successfully trained in screen printing and tailoring.
In coordination with specialists from the Service of Support and Consultation for the Care of Special Educational Needs (SAANEE), a seminar was organized for all CETPRO students to raise awareness of the great efforts that their disadvantaged peers put forth to gain an education and how they face and overcome obstacles to achieve their goals. All students have been encouraged to show respect, tolerance and a willingness to help and collaborate with their peers who have different skills.
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