We catch up with Raymond Munro

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Raymond Munro is 65 years of age; he has been a paraplegic for sixty of those years. It was 1972 when he moved to Coffs Harbour, and he has been volunteering since then. He sits on numerous boards and committees and volunteers to this day because he “likes to help people grow – especially people with a disability”.

 

How does December 3, International Day of People with Disability (IDPWD), increase awareness of the benefits of the inclusion of people with a disability?

IDPWD is an opportunity to celebrate the talents and contributions that people with different abilities make in our community. It’s also an opportunity to promote positive perceptions and encourage active participation in our workforce, leisure pursuits and social activities.

This year is the 20th anniversary of IDPWD. What progression have you seen in this time? 

There has been significant change in that time, and we now see people with a disability living and actively participating in our communities, as valued citizens. There is still some work to be done though, and people with a disability are more likely to find it harder to access the workforce, education and other social opportunities. It’s the responsibility of the whole community to make sure people of all abilities are valued and can be active, equal citizens.

2011 theme was ‘Together for a better world for all: including persons with disabilities in development’. What is the theme for 2012?

The 2012 United Nations Theme is: ‘Removing barriers to create an inclusive and accessible society for all’. This means we want people with a disability to be able to genuinely access and participate in their community. This includes physical access to shops, sporting and cultural venues, public buildings and events. It also means that communities value and welcome people of different abilities in education, employment and social situations. There are a lot of stereotypes and misconceptions about people with a disability. It’s time we broke down those barriers.

If members of the community wanted to organise an event to celebrate IDPWD, what can we do? 

There are so many ways to celebrate IDPWD, it’s really only limited by your imagination. If you are looking for inspiration, check out www.dontdismyability.com.au to see what other events are being held.

You can simply have a morning tea or lunch and invite the public to join you in celebration. You may like to invite a guest speaker from a disability service. Better still, invite people of different abilities to come and check out your business, club or venue. It’s also a great opportunity to think about how to make your business or club more accessible.

For more ideas and information, check out local newsagents for a free copy of Made you Look – the official magazine for the ‘Don’t Dis My Ability’ campaign. It is packed with great stories and tips for celebrating our diverse community.

And for all of those who are wanting to attend an event (not host one), what can we expect? 

There are a couple of events being held, including the ‘Come and Try Sports Day’ at Sportz Central, Bray Street, Coffs Harbour on December 7 starting at 10am.

As we have done for the past several years, we will be hosting Special Education classes from all schools in the Coffs Harbour area and even one from Nambucca Heads. First off, we have a march past of the schools, and then the speeches and the Coffs Council Access advisory committee presents an award. This award goes to a person or organisation/business that has, in our opinion, fulfilled the theme of the IDPWD. Next, lots of entertainment from children with a disability and of course, we always have Troppo Bob the clown – great fun for the children.

The best bit comes next, when we get a worthy person to cut the massive IDPWD chocolate cake. Then it is down to the business of letting everyone have a go at all the Come and Try sports on offer, like, futsal, T-ball, indoor bowls, table tennis, and we always have wheelchair basketball, with chairs on hand. There will be people to talk to about other sports, like Sailability, Riding for the Disabled and Disability Surfers.

By this time you should be good and hungry, so we’ll be feeding the hungry horde. After lunch there is more entertainment by Troppo Bob and more sports. Then it’s on the bus and back to school, just in time to go home.

If you need any more information about the day, just give Tim 0403 045 016 or Raymond 0408 649 126 a call.

The Community Access team at Ageing, Disability and Home Care will be hosting an art exhibition and colouring-in competition in the city centre during the week starting 3 December, to showcase the talents of people with different abilities. For more information about this event, you can contact Gail McArtney on 6659 1300.

Many people don’t know how to approach someone with a disability, because they are worried about saying the wrong thing, or the person’s behaviour or appearance makes them uncomfortable. What advice can you give to readers? 

One in five people in our community have a disability, and everyone wants to feel part of their community. If you meet someone who has a disability, speak to them in the same way you would to anyone else. Don’t make assumptions, and don’t avoid them. Smile and say hello! If they are being supported by someone else (like a carer or community worker), make sure you don’t ignore the person with the disability.

Think about how you would like to be treated in a similar situation and chances are, you’ll get it right. And once you get to know the person, you will quickly understand that their disability doesn’t define who they are. If you’d like some more tips on how to make our community more friendly for everyone, check out the Made you Look magazine.

Thanks Raymond.

This story was published in issue 27 Coffs Coast
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