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Marching with a message: Lethbridge event highlights challenges for those with disabilities

Click to play video: 'Lethbridge community highlights issues facing those with disabilities' Lethbridge community highlights issues facing those with disabilities
An annual event in Lethbridge on Friday brought community members of all abilities together to share a message of inclusion and support. Eloise Therien hears from walk organizers about some of the concerns being felt by those living with disabilities. – Sep 16, 2022

Dozens of southern Albertans converged on Lethbridge city hall Friday morning, equipped with hand-written posters and a desire to spread a message.

The annual Citizen Walk About looks to showcase the success of people with different abilities, with the theme, “How We Got Here.”

The South Region Self-Advocacy Network (SRSAN) hosted the walk in partnership with Southern Alberta Individualized Planning Association (SAIPA).

“It is an awareness event meant to highlight issues in the disability sector,” said SAIPA executive director Mark Davids.

“Both the accomplishments–where we are today, the great strides the people have managed to complete–as well as the work that still needs to be done.”

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The event saw participants move from city hall to Galt Gardens for entertainment, speakers and a barbecue lunch.

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Organizers hoped along with spreading awareness, it would be a chance to build connections.

“It’s showing that we are here too, so just showing our ability and what we can do,” said Melodie Scout, who has been taking part for several years.

She said despite hardships and discrimination she has faced, she keeps a positive attitude.

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When asked what challenges are currently facing people living with disabilities, Davids said there are three main concerns.

“The effect of transportation, communication, as well as finances,” he explained. “AISH (Assured Income for the Severely Handicapped) is not indexed at the moment, so as inflation continues to rise, it pushes people closer to poverty.”

Ben Rowley, self-advocate and one of the organizers, said more can also be done to assist those with different mobility needs.

“There’s a lot of issues for people with disabilities that you might not understand,” Rowley said. “Like getting into older buildings and not having that accessibility.”

According to it’s website, SAIPA was formed in 1986 as a charitable non-profit “which supports people with disabilities to drive change in their communities as engaged and empowered citizens.”

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Davids said many of its services are free and encourages community members to reach out for more information.

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