‘Ramp Up, Rise Up’ officially launched |02 December 2023
The ‘Ramp Up, Rise Up’ campaign was officially launched at the School for the Exceptional Child yesterday to commemorate the International Day of Persons with Disabilities on December 3.
This year’s event is being held under the theme ‘United in action to rescue and achieve the Sustainable Development Goals for, with and by persons with disabilities’.
The campaign raises awareness on accessibility to wheelchair bound persons, whose movements are restricted due to unavailability of ramps in various locations especially buildings.
Yesterday’s launch was organised by the Disabled Division within the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Family in collaboration with the campaign’s founder, Christine Winslow.
When addressing the guests, Marco Gerry, director for Disabled, emphasised the significance of the day, stating it was an important one that celebrates the promotion of the rights and well-being of persons with disabilities at every level of society and their development.
“It also raises awareness on many of the existing impeding barriers that impact the lives of persons with disabilities, in so many ways, every single day.”
Mr Gerry shared that since the ratification of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, Seychelles has tried to create awareness on many issues impeding the rights of persons with disabilities. “And this has been even more consistent under the new Elderly and Disabled Division in advocating for and raising awareness, including forming great collaboration with numerous stakeholders resulting in what we have witnessed recently in the ongoing campaign to raise awareness on accessibility for persons with disabilities.”
This actually addresses Goal 10 of the Sustainable Development Goals, which is to strive to reduce inequality within and among countries by empowering and promoting the social, economic and political inclusion of all, including persons with disabilities.
“The message is clear – disabilities exist not because someone is in a wheelchair but because their physical environment is not accessible, so let us form part of this campaign and do our best to improve accessibility for both our elderly and persons with a disability,” stated Mr Gerry.
For her part, Christine Winslow, founder of ‘Ramp Up, Rise Up’, shared why she was so passionate about raising awareness about accessibility.
“I have to fight for my son Jason’s right to accessibility at most places we visit. It does not matter whether I enquire ahead of time, we still arrive to a step, waiting for Jason and are told to just lift his wheelchair!”
Jason’s mother emotionally shared that one step blocks Jason from entering a place and this does affect the family as a whole, both mentally and emotionally.
“We try hard to keep a positive mindset on his very difficult journey fighting a fatal disease called Duchenne muscular dystrophy. Accessibility applies to all different types of disabilities including the hearing impaired, visually impaired, autism and many more. Imagine as an abled person carrying a step ladder around with you because there are no stairs provided anywhere. Imagine the inconvenience. Why then do we expect elderly and disabled persons to have to carry their portable ramps around with them?”
Mrs Winslow stated that the solution is not just making establishments accessible but by breaking the stigma in society when it comes to the elderly and disabled.
“Educate and raise awareness to change people’s perception that the elderly and disabled are not a burden or inconvenience and remembering that we too can tomorrow end up in a wheelchair. Elderly and disabled are humans too. They have rights. They have rights to accessibility and inclusion, the right to education in any school of their choice, any health facility they choose, restaurant, shop, banks, hairdressers and all. Together we can achieve this,” declared a hopeful Mrs Winslow.
During the emotional, yet heartwarming event, Minister Billy Rangasamy reiterated the government’s commitment to relook at all their buildings, to allow for ramps, and ensure they lead by example.
“I want to support all the team for the hard work and ask them to keep it up,” said Minister Rangasamy.
Also present for the ceremony was Dr Viveganandan Kanagappah from the Lions Club who commended the campaign and reiterated their support towards this cause. He also donated two wheelchairs on behalf of the club.
The event ended with a performance by the pupils of the School for the Exceptional Child.
The accompanying photos show some highlights of the ceremony.
Photos: Joena Meme