October 16, 2014 - 7:30 AM
KELOWNA – A line of people stood together outside City Hall Wednesday raising awareness for issues still faced by those in our city who have disabilities.
The rally, called the Pathways Inclusion Chain, was organized by Pathways Abilities Society, a 61-year-old group started by a handful of parents in 1953. It has since grown to represent more than 150 people in Kelowna with disabilities.
“Our role is to help everyone find a way to contribute to their communities and also to find employment,” says Pathways manager Leslie Munro. “Once you include everybody then the community is a better place for us all.”
Former Premier Mike Harcourt, himself a partial quadriplegic since injuring his spine in 2002, gave a speech saying that it is everyone’s responsibility to make sure all members of society have access to proper housing, transportation, training and employment.
“This is about… creating opportunities for people with diverse abilities and to recognize that what people with diverse abilities need is an opportunity,” he said.
Filling in for Mayor Walter Gray, Coun. Colin Basran said the rally is an important reminder that all members of a city are equally important.
“I want to send the message that Kelowna is welcoming of all people and that we want to include everybody,” he said.
Shelley Decoste has been with Pathways for two years. She hopes the Inclusion Chain will remind people that with a little help, those with disabilities can be productive and valued members of society.
“We just want to show people that we don’t have to be a burden on society,” she said. “We’re like everybody else; we want to work and contribute and enjoy life.”
Harcourt will also host discussion Wednesday night at the Mary Irwin Theatre at 7 p.m., where he will meet with locals and share his own personal story of recovery. Admission is free.
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News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2014