Michael McEwan: Learning Disability Week will be a chance to to talk as much about our abilities as disability

Ben Wray

Michael McEwan, CommonSpace columnist and chairperson of his local disability group, explains the plans for Learning Disability Week in May, and why positivity is the order of the day

A LARGE part of my work is raising awareness, whether about disability or mental health issues.

In January I attended a meeting about the upcoming Learning Disability Week, held at Project Ability in Glasgow.

Learning Disability Week is a national event, bringing together people and organisations from across Scotland.  It will take place Monday 13 to Sunday 19 May this year. There is a theme for the week, this year’s is  “Community, Active, Connected, Included”.

The event is co-ordinated by the Scottish Commission for Learning Disability (SCLD) , a critical resource and platform. There are over 125,000 people with a disability in Scotland, so events like this help to raise awareness of issues and address inequality, while recognising achievements and talents.

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We all know the importance of feeling included and involved in our local community. This event annually works with disability organisations to reinforce this, to highlight that people with learning disabilities can contribute to their communities.  

Last year SCLD ran a competition for people with a disability to design the event mascot. This year’s mascot is a unicorn, designed by Steven Dickson.

SCLD hosts the annual Scottish Learning Disability Awards in May, the culmination of activities taking place across Scotland as part of the week. 

 The week and the awards act as a platform to celebrate the contribution of people with learning disabilities in their communities across Scotland.

READ MORE: Michael McEwan: How society is starting to adapt itself to the needs of autistic people

As well as being a journalist , I’m also Chair of East Renfrewshire Disability Action (ERDA) . One of the organisations we work with regularly is the Self Support Forum (SDS Forum), which is holding a series of roadshows to raise awareness and discuss key themes. One of these events will be during Learning Disability Week.

This event not only raises awareness and the profiles of many Scots based disability organisations, but for many thousands of people with disabilities it continues to work to break down the barriers they face, socially and in terms of employment. 

We need to recognise the progress that is being made. Society has progressed in terms of people on TV with a disability, characters in soap dramas, and sports coverage like The Paralympics, which lets the viewers see ability, rather than disability. 

Going back 10 years or so, you would not have seen such regular coverage, which is now creating so many positive role models to inspire future generations on what is, and can be possible. Learning Disability Week will be an important opportunity to keep building that momentum and positivity towards the goal of a society where disability is no impediment to achieving your dreams and aspirations.

Picture courtesy of Bromford

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