“We mark this year’s International Day of Persons with Disabilities in the wake of the adoption of the ambitious 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. This global blueprint for action summons us to ‘leave no one behind.’”
These powerful words by the Secretary of the U.N. serve as the framework for the 2015 International Day of Persons with Disabilities, recognized this past Saturday. My initial thought was: how does sustainable development relate to persons with disabilities? Doing a bit of research, I found that there are three dimensions of sustainable development – environmental, economic, and social. It’s in the social dimension that most of us think about inclusion.
Sustainability goes hand-in-hand with inclusion; you can’t have a truly sustainable society while excluding some from this equation. 60 years ago, persons with disabilities had no place in society. Today, while their voice is heard in all aspects of life, there is certainly room to grow.
A truly sustainable society is one in which all individuals are empowered, enabling them to take advantage of opportunities, which in turn allows them to become active and contributing members of society. It’s our responsibility to assure that all of our citizens have access to employment, health care, education, and safe housing – in other words, as our founding fathers said: life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness for all.
What can each of us do?
We can promote awareness and support and strive to spread this positive message of empowerment throughout each of our own communities. As Van Gogh said: “Great things are not done by impulse, but by a series of small things brought together.”