On International Day of People with a Disability remember the role we all play in society

ALL SMILES: Cathryn Mitchell says that people with a disability have as many good qualities as able bodied people. Photo: Oscar Carter.
ALL SMILES: Cathryn Mitchell says that people with a disability have as many good qualities as able bodied people. Photo: Oscar Carter.

Living with spina bifida has not slowed Cathryn Mitchell down.

From the time she was little she was swimming while most children were learning to walk, and with her can-do attitude, nothing has stopped her from achieving her goals.

“I have never let my disability stop me from doing the things I want to do.

“Over the years I have studied a range of different things from fashion technology and diversional therapy to art, metal work and trying to learn musical instruments,” Ms Mitchell said.

Sunday, December 3 was International Day of People with a Disability, a United Nations sanctioned day that recognises and celebrates the achievements of those living with a disability.

“The day for me is a celebration of people living with a disability and shows to the community that we are valued members of society.

“Growing up there were things I couldn’t do, but looking back at those times I only remember the things I could do, and the good times I had.

“I think the day forces everyone to focus not on the disability but on what the person living with the disability can do.

“It shows that we are not burdens to our friends and family and that we all have different abilities, which should be recognised,” she said.

The aim of the day is to increase public awareness, understanding and acceptance of people living with a disability.

Each year the UN announces a theme to observe for International Day of People with Disability, and this year the theme was ‘transformation towards sustainable and resilient society for all’.

The overarching principle of this theme is to ‘leave no one behind’ and empowers people with disability to be active contributors of society. 

“The theme for this year’s International Day of People with Disability I think is all about disabled people learning how to contribute to society within our own means, whether that be through volunteer or paid work and for the community to think about how they can include people with a disability in their everyday life.”