The United Nations state that “we advance social justice when we remove barriers that people face because of gender, age, race, ethnicity, religion, culture or disability.” That is why today, February 20th, is recognized by The UN as World Day of Social Justice. The theme for this year is “If You Want Peace & Development, Work for Social Justice.” And that is exactly what we do here at Disability Advocates. Rich Jones, our Advocacy Program Manager, was interviewed about what we do to advocate for social justice.
What still needs to be done before we achieve true equality for the community of people with disabilities?
We have to continue to work toward equity (fairness) and that comes from influencing peoples’ thinking (behavior doesn’t effectively change unless thinking changes).
Rich is absolutely right about this, and it applies to all areas of injustice. Stigmas of inequality must be broken in order to effectively establish justice. But how do we do that? I asked Rich how this is done through us.
What do we do at Disability Advocates to bring about change related to the rights of people with disabilities?
A huge thing that we do is to educate people about disability rights.
The task of education may seem irrelevant, but it is one of the most important things we can do. I asked him to elaborate.
Why is this so important?
Education helps people know that problems exist (1 in 5 people in Michigan have a disability), that it impacts everyone personally (80% chance of obtaining a disability before you die), and with the senior population growing everyday (10,000 baby boomers will turn 65 every day for the next 19 years) it impacts society financially.
Knowing these things is huge. Nothing makes people more active in advocacy than being aware of the problems being faced, learning that more struggle with these problems than they realize, and knowing that one day those issues will affect them as well. Once armed with this information, however, they need to be set in the right direction.
How can others get involved?
Volunteer, write letters, support disability organizations financially, and vote.
Rich emphasized voting; it’s the easiest way to have your say in what is done, both locally and nationally. Doing a little bit of research to decide which candidates will fight for social justice can go a long way as more people do so. Many other avenues of involvement are available through Disability Advocates as well. If any of these opportunities feel right for you, don’t hesitate to reach out to us at (616) 949-1100. We will happily take your call and get you set on your path to work with us on reaching for social justice.
Katey Berry – Marketing & Communications Coordinator
Rich Jones – Advocacy Program Manager
http://www.un.org/en/events/socialjusticeday/ – United Nations