December 3 is International Day of Persons with Disabilities. In 2019, it was stated that the United Nations should lead by example and raise the standards on disability inclusion. International Day of Persons with Disabilities promotes the rights and well-being of people with disabilities in all aspects of life. It’s also a day to reflect on the progress made in all areas of society. Over one billion people in the world have disabilities which represents 16% of the population.
During the holidays, it’s important to consider accommodations your friends and family might need during celebrations. Whether it’s a holiday party, family gathering, or worship service – it is important to understand your friends and family’s needs while creating an environment that is inclusive and welcoming to those with disabilities. Ensuring inclusivity during the holidays is one way to create a welcoming environment where everyone feels valued and appreciated. It is an opportunity to celebrate the diversity among your family and friends and strengthen the bonds that make those gatherings meaningful.
September is Emergency Preparedness Month. This year, as every year, the Minnesota Council on Disability reminds you that disasters and emergencies disproportionally impact people with disabilities. To minimize the effects of any emergency, planning is essential. Communication with your support network is critical for people with disabilities when planning for an emergency. The people physically closest to you—family you live with, roommates, your neighbors, and coworkers—are likely to be the ones around you when an emergency happens. Identify the supports you need to take shelter or evacuate in an emergency, and then create an emergency plan with them.
Each year at the State Fair, the Minnesota Council on Disability brings members of the disability community and fairgoers together for questions, conversations, and fun. Among the many special guests who appear at our booth, we are proud to feature artists with disabilities. Poet Adina Burke is one of this year’s artists. We are happy to bring you a poem on the State Fair by Adina.
Artist Bart S. Bartholomew reflects on how the State Fair can both push them outside their comfort zone and be a place of inclusion and connection: “[T]he 150-year-old ‘Great Minnesota Get-Together’ is a fantastic showcase of the best butter sculptures, fare on-a-stick, seed art, DNR pond, 104-year-old blue-ribbon winning baker, and talent. Other states can’t compare. As much as my mind screamed, ‘NO!,’ deep down in my heart I wanted to enter the melee and soak up the experience. Why? Even though I knew my circuits would overload and the breaker would blow, I wanted to be a part of something bigger; moreover, like anyone else – most of all – I wanted to be included.
Poet Adina Burke reflects on the universal need for community and inclusion and how these things are exemplified at the fair: “The fair is a greater illustration of this due to the meshing of so many people and mixture of perspectives. I have the opportunity to learn about accessibility through watching others like me and unlike me navigate the fair and how it is they accomplish what they wish to during the delightful and sometimes disorienting event that is the state fair.”