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Tuesday, July 23, 2024

Community activities at UCLan to mark start of Disability History Month

To celebrate the start of this important month, the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) has a jam-packed events schedule

Disability History Month begins this week (running from Wednesday 16 November through to 16 December), and UCLan has put together a range of events aimed at raising awareness and fostering support for those with seen and unseen disabilities across our communities. The theme this year is Disability, Health and Wellbeing.

UK Disability History Month (UK DHM) promotes and celebrates historical contributions of people with a diverse range of disabilities, by discussing the challenges and structural barriers they faced. This annual event creates a platform to focus on the history of people with disabilities, and their advocacy for equality and human rights.

There’s a range of activities planned at UCLan over the month, launching this week with ‘Campus and Community Wellbeing Wednesday’, an event on University Square (Preston campus) which is open to staff, students and the community too. Running between 12pm and 2pm, there will be adapted bikes for people to try out, the Paralympic sport of Boccia (related to bowls, it’s a target sport played indoors with soft leather balls), and parachute games. Senior leaders at the University will formally open the event at 12.15 and members of the Staff Disability Network and Disabled Students Society will also share their plans for the month ahead.

Pro-Vice Chancellor for Academic Leadership and Equality, Diversity and Inclusion, Professor Ebrahim Adia, said:

“It’s brilliant that we’re bringing together the UCLan community, and wider Preston community too, to recognise and celebrate those with seen and unseen disabilities – not just throughout history, but today as well.

“We want our University to truly represent our society, and marking Disability History Month in this way, with a range of initiatives to help create understanding and support, is a big step on our journey to create a healthy, safe and positive environment for staff and students – one which embraces diversity and fosters a culture of learning and belonging for all.”

In particular, a focus for the month is around Neurodiversity; exploring and debunking the myths and stereotypes, as well seeing the world through neurodivergent eyes. To help with this, UCLan will be launching its first Neurodivergent Staff Network, a development which follows on from the the Belonging at UCLan: Let’s Discuss Disability held in July this year. The Network is aimed at creating a collaborative forum, one in which colleagues can share their experiences, learnings and understanding. Other events of note include a ‘DisabiliTea and Cake’ event on 22 November, which will celebrate UCLan’s disabled student and staff community: the gathering will also be an opportunity for disabled students to connect with inclusive support staff.

Many of the months’ events are being led by staff and students, alongside organisations such as Disability Equality North West, which aims to further the rights of disabled people in the region, and Galloways, a sight loss charity.

CEO of Disability Equality North West and Preston City Councillor Mel Close said:

“UK Disability History Month is still relatively new, only starting in 2010, so it’s really important that large organisations support and promote the month with a range of activities and events to highlight the day-to-day issues disabled people face, but also to celebrate the lived experience and achievements of disabled people – we have a history of oppression, institutionalisation, lack of choice and control and discrimination, and we must never forget that.

“As a community we really appreciate the disabled campaigners who fought so hard for the human rights we have today. This year’s theme is ‘health and wellbeing’ – we lost many good people in the recent pandemic and many disabled people struggled in so many ways – it’s important to remember and learn from history including more recent history. Disability Equality (NW) Ltd is delighted to be working with UCLAN to raise awareness and mark UK Disability History Month 2022.”

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