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What’s in a Name?

How often have we heard the jibe at school 'Sticks and stones can break my bones, but names can never hurt me!' If you will excuse me, what a load of rubbish that is. If you are often enough called a derogatory name, then over time you will believe that you are worthless. Then when you grow up to be an adult the name calling doesn't stop. You are 'disabled' as though something is wrong with you, rather than 'a person with a disability' or 'person with disabilities'. You might say 'what is the change in name?' But think on it. With the statement ’disabled' it means you've got something missing or something not working quite right, on the negative side of things. If you are a person with disabilities’ however, then you have something others don't have. Positivity rather than negativity. I know it isn't very much but every little bit helps.

I have a partial paralysis of the right side. So I walk with a limp. My nickname at school was ’caliper’ after the odd legged caliper that they use in metalworking shops. The other boys found it great fun to call me caliper. I am now in my late 60’s and still bare the mental scares of being called a caliper. Some of my so-called friends liked the word ’spastic’. One called me a spastic until I asked whether he knew what it meant. He did have the decency to say that he didn't. So please don't say that ’Sticks and stones can break my bones but names can never hurt me.’

What School should I go to? I believe wherever possible every child should be educated in the normal state run schools and colleges/universities. So many times children have to go to ’special’ schools which often are no more than a dumping ground where the last thing done for them is to educate them. However it goes far deeper than this and the question that has to be asked is ’How can they mix with others?’ What's more important is how can those going to the normal state education mix with the people with disabilities? We have the captains of industry of the future going to school now and they are cut off from one section of society. Ireland's policy is for inclusion and yet we still have these ’special’ schools. When a kid is sent to a special school they must go to special places of employment, in fact we have 2 societies. Perhaps when we, the people with disabilities go to the Pearly Gates we will get told that we must go through special Pearly Gates! 

What's Acceptable? In the year 2000 there was a young lady in one of the institutions for people with disabilities who had just passed her junior leaving certificate - taken for most kids when they are 16. I heard of this on the national news one morning and thought ’Good on her!’ - but that got me thinking that a lady just because she is a person with disabilities getting her leaving certificate should be news worthy doesn't do very much for the standing of Ireland in the world for disabled people.  Come up to the present time and a young 18 month old girl who happens to have Down Syndrom was told by one man that she was beautiful when out in a restaurant. This one statement made her mother burst into tears because as she explained, this was the first occasion that a complete stranger had called her daughter beautiful. What kind of world do we live in where a kind word from a complete stranger brings a mother to tears?

My Mom Taught Me ----- a heart warming messsage from Jennyfer Martinez-Sanchez which was posted on Facebook and I happened to see it. Click Here for the page.

Disabled Parking Permits

There is an article on the articles page about those parking in disabled parking spaces with no disabled permit. There is a photograph of this one car taking 2 spaces. I am sure everyone will agree that this kind of behaviour is unacceptable in any society and the perpetrator should hang his (or her) head in shame. The physically disabled in society have enough difficulty getting around without people doing thoughtless things like this. It happened to me a few days ago. My wife Jan and myself have mobility problems, I think Jan will admit hers are a bit more than mine. We live in one of the most beautiful parts of this world but even we like to get out now and then! We were in Killarney (to pay the insurance on our car) and decided to go to the Killarney Heights hotel for our main meal of the day − save cooking at home. Killarney Heights do wheelchair users and people who have to use walkers proud with a ramp and wide doors. Imagine our disappointment when parked in front of the ramp was a great big Range Rover preventing Jan from entering the hotel. The same Range Rover was blocking a few disabled parking bays as well. There was plenty of parking spaces; I guess it was a case of the driver thinking he or she would only be a few minutes or he or she was so lazy that they had to park as near to the hotel as possible.  We came home and had to cook our meal for that particular day; our meal at the Killarney Heights just a dream!

Olympics 2016

The Olympics are on us once again and as I write this article the opening ceremony is only in a few hours. I wish every competitor the best of luck, and as I live in Ireland I wish the Irish competitors double the luck in their endeavours! However may I make a plea? We are supposed to live in an inclusive society, so why do we still have THE Olympics, then the Olympics for us lot - Special Olympics for those with intellectual challenges, Paralympics for those with physical deformities?  Why can’t we all compete in one Olympics? We don’t have men’s and women’s Olympics; we know that men are a little faster than women for example so events are staged to accommodate this fact. So why don’t we have those with intellectual or physical disabilities staged with the rest of the competitors? Have we ever thought of the 100 meters finals being staged one after another of the men’s event, women’s event, men’s wheelchair, women’s wheelchair, men’s amputees, women’s amputees and so on? The commentators would be for ever comparing the time of each event. I realise this would cause problems for the organisers, more accommodation would be required for a starter but I think it would benefit society in general to have everyone competing together in the one Olympic Games.

I am still sore about the 2 articles of news on the RTE 6.01 news of 8 years ago. (RTE is the national radio and television service in Ireland) The Olympics Games that year were held in China and there was an article that the games may have to be moved because of the smog caused by the vehicles in the city where the games were held. This was a very serious possibility. The Chinese authorities assured the people of the world that the issue of the smog would be resolved by the time the Olympics started.

On the same news there was filming of the Special Olympics starting with all the competitors waving as they went into one of the stadiums. I was outraged. Where was the concern for air quality for the competitors of the Special Olympics? Not only did the Chinese authorities not think the Special Olympics were part of the Olympics but anything would do for those with mobility or intellectual difficulties.

Access to Tralee Court House

The article Access to Tralee Court House on the article page reminds me of a story I heard a few years ago which happened in Texas. As is the right of everyone in the United States − and in this country I believe − to go to an open court to hear proceedings and judgement. However people that found it difficult to negotiate steps could not get in, so they demonstrated outside. The sheriff and his deputies came along after a bit and asked them to move on as they were causing a disturbance. The demonstrators would not and so the sheriff arrested the demonstrators, but as they could not get into the courthouse judgement could not be administered. The sheriff then bound them over to keep the peace and sent them on their way. But no, the demonstrators would not accept what the sheriff's judgement and demanded (as is the right in the United States I believe) to appear in court. I cant remember what happened afterwards, but it is a pity that politicians are always on about inclusivity and yet the courts are one area of society where many people with disabilities are unable to find justice.

Paralympics 2016

https://www.paralympic.org/news/ipc-presidents-statement-regarding-rio-2016-budget-cuts-paralympic-games

As I write this article the Paralympic games are to start in a short time. Above is the link to the speech made by Sir Philip Craven on Friday 19th August. He talks a lot about how good the Paralympic games will be and that he is looking forward to them. Sir Philip does concede that the games are going through some funding difficulties, namely they have only 60% of funding they should have had for 31st July. Sir Philip goes on to say that this is causing some of the smaller countries some problems and they might not be able to send competitors, but that the IPC committee is working with 10 countries that have been identified as having particular problems. This is disgraceful with the games starting on 7th September.

I am sure all the monies were paid on time with no quibble for the Olympic Games − so again why isnt everybody together? We have mens and womens events in the Olympics, for some events there is even an age difference, so why not an event for those amputees, those with intellectual challenges or wheelchair users − and so on? We are told that we are living in an inclusive society so why do we have sport segregated?

Having said all this I would like to wish everyone who competes in the Paralympics the best of luck!

Discrimination

An article has been linked to our Facebook page and been put onto the website entitled Discrimination. It tells of a carer and a man with disabilities going into a public house in Limerick. The carer asks for an orange juice for himself and a pint of beer for the person with the disability. The customer was served the orange juice but not the beer because the barman could not take responsibility if the person with the disability had an adverse effect from drinking the alcohol. 

 My first reaction on reading the article was horror that this sort of reaction could take place in these so called enlightened times and (I am ashamed to say) a hope that the barman was not in that position any longer.

 On reflection however I think a more holistic approach (as one of my friends is constantly saying!) is needed. Why did the barman refuse to serve the person with the disability? I assume that the barman hasnt got any medical training so if what the barman said is taken to its logical conclusion nothing would get done. No one would ever walk on the pavement because a car may mount the pavement and injure or kill those on the pavement; no one would breath − because the air we breathe may have some toxic substances. It gets crazy! 

 If an adverse effect had been taken to the man with the disability in drinking the alcoholic drink all the barman was required to do would be to make sure an ambulance had been called and the details written in the accident book where the incident took place.

 I think more training should be given to the person who is selling the products to the public (including alcohol) to mind their own bloody business if the buyer is acting within the law!  

Education

Education is certainly the way to lift oneself out of poverty − especially if you are a person with disabilities. I was looking at the prospectus for ITTralee a few days ago and the courses they have on offer made me wish I was a bit younger! However if you are 18 or 81 go and have a look at the courses. Some of the courses are specially designed for adult students, although I dont know whether they are channelled towards the one as old as the one at the age of 81!

 I was once told at school that the best censor is oneself; because he or she does not think they can do a thing they dont waste peoples time by applying for it in the first place. If only I had my own life to live again, but thats another story!

 If youre telling yourself that you want to go on a particular course but that you cant because you cant do a certain thing − like take notes − dont let that stop you. There are a great deal of supports to make your learning experience at the college as enjoyable as possible.

 So grab a prospectus and if you have any difficulties at all go and see one of the people at the college who will be only too willing to help. I was once told at the college that the course is fitted round the student, not the other way round.

 And what of me? Ive been extrolling the benefits of education. What am I doing to improve my education and knowledge? Im 67 at the moment and Im doing a load of courses on the internet. Ive just completed 2 freebees offered by the Open University and am at present on one offered by the Goodwill Community Foundation. I dont really want to be in the formal classroom situation now so Im thinking of going for a degree course offered by the Open University. I might even go and worry them at ITTralee again −  I think they do a few correspondence courses!

 And there are grants for you! Not only for the 18 year old but also the mature student, although again Im not sure whether there is one for the 81 year old or even myself if I wish to go on a full time course! There are provisions made for those of working age. 

 Lastly I would like to take this opportunity of wishing all of those just starting at ITTralee − and all colleges and universities throughout this world the best of fortune hoping that their time there is fruitful and enjoyable.

Fund Raising Activity at the Blennerville Annual Steam Threshing Festival

 Many thanks go to the Blennerville Windmill Annual Steam Threshing Festival who invited the Kerry Disability Network to have a stand there where we raised some desperately needed cash for the organisation Thanks to everyone who supported the Network on that lovely − but a bit breezy! − day.

 The festival itself was very interesting with the parade being lead by a lovingly restored steam tractor. The cars were all lined up opposite our stand and it made me feel really old as most of the so called vintage cars came from the era when I was growing up! And then I felt ancient as 2 Ford Escorts were side by side; the Ford Escort was the first car I owned!

 I think everyone was grateful that the rain stayed away when we remember that we had some rain the day before and then that night at about 9 oclock the heavens opened and it never stopped until about 6 oclock on the Tuesday evening.

 Again many thanks to the committee of the Blennerville Windmill Annual Steam Threshing Festival for allowing the Network to have a stand and many thanks to everyone that helped the Network.

UN Convention on Rights for People with Disabilities

You would think that 10 years would be long enough for this convention to be ratified by the Irish government. It was signed by the United Nations in March 2007 and when earlier this year it was stated that Ireland would ratify the legislation for the end of the year I asked with only a little humour in my voice which year?

Finain McGrath Minister with responsibility for people with disabilities cites blockages within legislative process. What does that mean? My own cynical mind thinks that it just means that nobody can get round to signing it, the people with disabilities are not important enough to the Irish government in general.

However let us say that blockages within legislative process(and it is a wonderful phrase − conveying the image that the person knows what he or she is talking about but in reality havent the faintest idea!) means that there are other laws that must be changed before the convention can be ratified. It is nearly 10 years ago that the convention was signed by the United Nations as stated above, how long does our government need?  

 Taxi Service

A refrehing report that in Britain taxi drivers are too be fined up to £1,000 for discriminating against wheelchair users. Any form of discrimination needs to be eradicated and we at the Kerry Disability Network welcome the new regulation. We wonder when our own Irish government is going to bring like legislation in this country?