Each year the United Nations announces a theme for International Day of People with Disability (IDPwD). The theme for 2016 is: Achieving 17 Goals for the Future We Want, which draws attention to the 17 Sustainable Development Goals and how these goals can create a more inclusive and equitable world for persons with disabilities.

In Bislama this translates loosely to: Yumi Wantem ol Gudfala Samting Tumoro.

The annual theme provides a frame for considering how people with disability are excluded from society by promoting the removal of all types of barriers; including those relating to the physical environment, information and communications technology (ICT), or attitudinal barriers. This has been occurring since 1992 when the General Assembly proclaimed 3 December as the International Day of Disabled Persons.

Today, countries all around the world celebrate the day. Vanuatu will be celebrating this special day in each of the six provinces. It takes a group effort to organize awareness and celebrations for this important day and the Disability Desk in the Ministry of Justice and Community Services (MJCS) is very thankful to a number of key stakeholders and sponsors to make this year’s activities a potential tool to make changes in each community. Oxfam and the Australian High Commission have been very supportive in funding key components of the day’s programs and helping stakeholders disseminate a strong message to the community about gender based violence.

Actors from Rainbow Disability Theatre and students from APTC have been working together over the past couple of weeks creating large and colourful banners promoting both IDPwD and the 16 Days of Activitism. The actors from Rainbow Theatre have designed the banners and tee shirts this year, based around the IDPwD and 16 Days themes. The students from various courses within APTC have really engaged the collaborative process and have demonstrated great skills in making the activity inclusive. A magical example of this is how Noella Roberts from Rainbow Theatre who has vision impairment has still been able to contribute and help paint the banners through the guidance and support of the APTC students.

The 16 Days of Activitism is a collective of stakeholders with a common interest and desire to address and stop violence against women and children. The theme this year for the 16 Days of Activitism is: “Peace that Starts in the Home Leads to Peace in the World: Making Education Safe for Everyone”. In bislama this translates to: “Pis I stat long hom I go long wol: Makem Edukasen i Sef Blong Evriwan”.

The whole community is invited to the opening of the 16 Days of Activitism campaign today (Friday).

Participants are asked to meet at Fung Kwai at 8am for a community float and march to Independence Park at 9am. Those arriving early might be the lucky ones to receive a free tee shirt courtesy of Intraco who have kindly sponsored the IDPwD tee shirts for this year’s celebrations. There will be a full day’s program at Independence Park including the Prime Minister launching the National Child Policy and some IEC material from the Regional Rights Resource Team from the MJCS. Rainbow Theatre will perform one of their wonderful plays.

Celebrations this year for IDPwD will not be limited to Port Vila and thanks to Australian Aid through Stretem Rod Blong Jastis the Disability Desk is able to support each Provincial Government Disability Committee to celebrate in their respective Provinces. The Disability Desk will travel to Saratamata, Ambae in Penama Province to help celebrate a big awareness program there on December 2. In Tafea Province celebrations will be at Kuaramanu Village in East Tanna on December 2 as well as in Torba Province at Mota Island in Banks on same date. In Malampa Province there will be a program of awareness at Lakatoro on December 2. The committee will also celebrate in Craig Cove, West Ambrym from December 12 to ensure their messages reach across to different areas of Malampa Province. Celebrations in Sanma Province will be at Million Dollar Point on December 3.

In Port Vila IDPwD celebrations will be promoted in the 16 Days of Activitism program at Independence Park today. Vanuatu Society of People with Disability (VSPD) will also deliver an awareness program with the Mele Maat community on December 2. Feel free to join in these programs in the various provinces as an inclusive environment for all people is being promoted.

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