The Winning Team: Giving a voice to caregivers and people with disabilitiesDecember 4th, 2015
Success is always a function of teamwork! On this International Day of Persons with Disabilities, while the main focus should be on persons affected by one or many forms of disability, one must also recognize the people who play an instrumental role in the lives of people with disabilities- family caregivers!
Providing full-time care for family members with disabilities can be seen as a very stressful, as most times these caregivers lack social support and knowledge on how to care for these persons. As a caregiver, it is important to understand the condition of the individuals within your care and focus on enhancing his or her capabilities. Reaching out and connecting with others caregivers is a great way to gain knowledge as this provides an avenue to raise concerns, combat emotional isolation one may sometimes experience and also share information on services and recreational facilities that can be used to better the lives of the disabled persons.
Enabling these persons with disabilities with the ability to manage some form of their lifestyle both empowers the person as well as lifts the stress off the caregiver. Many times, we unknowingly treat our care giving responsibilities as a to – do list. It is more effective to shift the dynamics and think of the person with a challenge as a team player rather than a passive recipient. There are innumerable success stories of what persons with impairments have been able to achieve, with a positive and supportive team cheering them on.
The value of recreation should never be underestimated. Activities and sports for persons with challenges allows for building a positive self-esteem and counters taboos as it shifts focus from the disability to the abilities of the individuals. These activities also serve as a basis for social interaction and communication; safe places to share and develop peer groups that they may not have been exposed to. As a person’s self-worth increases, it also makes for healthier and more positively driven relationships at home.
The CYSDP Working Group had the opportunity to meet a visually impaired cricketer and Queen’s Young Leader award recipient, Mr. Leroy Phillips from Guyana during Commonwealth Youth Forum 2015 in Malta. From his personal experience he notes, “Ever since my introduction to blind – cricket, my life took a telling turn for the good. Opportunities began to flow my way both academically and socially. I strongly believe through sports young persons with disabilities can discover their voices and use such discovery as a tool to push further in acquiring their individual dreams.”
“Through my participation in sports, I see firsthand how sport can indeed transform someone’s life almost immediately although it happens gradually. Over all I believe sport enhances the lives of persons living with disabilities; with a little support to make venues and facilities accessible, the future then holds something tangible for the global community of persons with disabilities.”
There is a need all over the world for caregivers, particularly young carers to be recognized and supported as a vulnerable group. There is also a need to make sports venue, facilities and programs more inclusive and accessible for persons with disabilities. As we recognize the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, let us remember that in a good team, each member is empowered to participate actively, communicate effectively and win together!
Written by Devika Malik
Asia Regional Representative, Commonwealth Youth Sport for Development and Peace Working Group