(Saint John, NB) Saint John Common Council will be holding a town hall meeting next Wednesday night to focus on disability issues. The meeting is intended to provide an opportunity for open discussion with various disability groups as part of the week-long Disability Awareness Week (DAW). The town hall meeting will be held at the Loch Lomond Villa on Wednesday, June 1 from 7pm – 9pm and is open to the public.
Barry Freeze is currently the City of Saint John’s staff liaison with the Saint John Ability Advisory Committee, the group which organizes the annual event. Freeze sits on a number of disability organizations and works with disability groups on a daily basis in his role as a coordinator for the Leisure Services Department. “There are many active groups in the Saint John area who advocate for and serve persons with a disability,” he says. “ It’s one week that gives them a voice and draws attention to the issues and challenges they face – challenges that persons without a disability would not necessarily consider.”
Disability Awareness Week activities get underway on Saturday, May 28th with an Opening Ceremonies Community Barbecue, open to the public, at Key Industries, 239 Charlotte Street, from 1pm until 4pm. Other activities taking place throughout DAW include an EmployAbility Luncheon at the UNBSJ Grand Hall (invitation only) and a disability simulation exercise at Millidgeville North School.
“The disability simulation exercise will give students the opportunity to experience what it might be like to have a disability and to see some of the technology that persons with a disability use in their daily lives,” explains Freeze.
Disability Awareness Week began as National Access Awareness Week in 1988 to promote better community access for people with disabilities in response to a request from Rick Hansen following his Man in Motion World Tour. This year marks the twenty-fifth anniversary of Hansen’s tour and will be marked by a national relay dubbed 'Many In Motion.'
Freeze will also be distributing registration forms during DAW for Recreation Your Way, which is scheduled to take place on in early fall. Recreation Your Way provides a day of accessible and inclusive sport and recreational activities for individuals with disabilities and their friends and families. The annual event is sponsored by the Tim Horton’s Pavilion Cup Fund and the City of Saint John and takes place at Rockwood Park. Recreation Your Way activities precede the end of day celebrations for the Rick Hansen Many in Motion Tour to be held at Rockwood Park for the Rick Hansen Relay. The relay comes to Saint John on Sunday, October 2nd for a four-day stop on its trans-Canada tour. Local citizens interested in becoming a relay medal bearer must enter online at www.rickhansenrelay.com before June 11, 2011.
A complete list of activities can be found on the city's website, www.saintjohn.ca. For more information about Disability Awareness Week and Recreation Your Way, citizens can call Barry Freeze at the City of Saint John Leisure Services at 658-2908.