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National AccessAbility Week Ambassador shines a light on disability through speaker series

National AccessAbility Awareness Week
Alyse Hand speaks with National AccessAbility Awareness Week ambassador and disability advocate April Hubbard.

Disability advocate April Hubbard is challenging the able-bodied community to think about their own privilege during COVID-19 ahead of the National AccessAbility Week speaker series

May 30 to June 6 is National AccessAbility Week across Canada and in Nova Scotia, organization reachAbility is hosting a special digital conference to celebrate and recognize the contributions to the community by people with disabilities. It will also feature a speaker series, interactive workshops and discussions on equity and removing barriers.

One of those fighting for an equal playing field is Hubbard, a local artist, disability advocate and 2020 NAAW ambassador. She hopes her involvement will highlight the achievements of people living with disabilities and the importance of education and inclusion.

READ MORE: Sold-out Halifax disX show breaks down disability barriers

“It was really exciting to be chosen as an ambassador, to be able to be an example to the next generation,” Hubbard says. “We can build great lives and be contributing members of society… but I get to be an example that it can be done and lead the next generation of women who are just starting out in this journey.”

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Hubbard was born with spina bifida, but it wasn’t until she was 16 that she started to lose the use of her legs due to a tethered spinal cord because of tumours in her lower spine. Doctors attempted to remove the tumours twice without success.

April Hubbard
Dedicated theatre volunteer April Hubbard donates her arm to the arts in 2017. Global Halifax/ Alexa MacLean

“At that point, it was determined that this was my diagnosis; this was what I was going to have to live with for the rest of my life,” Hubbard says. “I had to shift and kind of figure out how I was going to move forward… creating a life for myself that I could still be happy with.”

READ MORE: Halifax-based non-profit goes digital for week-long conference on accessibility and inclusion

On Wednesday, June 3, Hubbard will join reachAbility founder and CEO Tova Sherman for a NAAW speaker series to discuss physical accessibility, inclusion and the arts. Hubbard sees it as an opportunity for everyone, including the able-bodied community, to learn the realities of living with disabilities.

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“Everyone in Nova Scotia and in Canada will have had, has or will have a disability,” Sherman says. “Let’s find a reason to celebrate inclusion and the incredible things that people with disabilities achieve every single day in their workplace, in their lives, with their families and with their children.”

READ MORE: Halifax non-profit ensuring accessibility, inclusion during COVID-19

Speaker Series: Tova Talks with April Hubbard will broadcast through the reachAbility Facebook page Wednesday, June 3 at 7 p.m. ADT. It will be recorded and available to watch any time through the reachAbility Facebook and YouTube platforms.

“I really want to challenge everyone out there to take NAAW as an example,” Hubbard says. “Especially with COVID happening right now, everybody’s kind of feeling this… isolation that folks living with disabilities feel all the time. Think about your own privilege and find people in your community; talk to them, ask about their experience and make sure that they know they are part of the community and you see their value and think about their experience moving on after COVID.”

To learn more about reachAbility and the 2020 National AccessAbility Week digital conference, visit their website.