Unaware of Awareness Days
Yesterday was International Wheelchair user Day (IWD). First I’d heard of it – which is strange considering I’ve used a wheelchair for donkey’s years and have a degree in Disability Studies, years working in disability advocacy/campaigning/social care etc etc. I would have thought I’d have come across it somewhere lol. Apparently not.
The fact is – it’s a made up thing i.e it’s not one of the United Nations Days or something linked particularly to a charity – someone in the North East of England decided there was a need for such a day and chose March 1st. This then was promoted as a day to celebrate our wheely liberation which I think is in its fifth year.
People don’t seem to celebrate walking on legs day (anyone want to set that one up…? ) so I pondered over why I should be excited about celebrating wheeling around. Quite possibly because there is still a lot of stigma and misunderstanding about life as a wheelchair user – which is begging to be challenged etc. Attitudes to users, quality of access to places, lack of innovation in chair design and function etc. We are still in an era where people pat you on the head or think that carrying you up a flight of stairs is ‘reasonable adjustment’.
I can see the potential in such a day.
It reminded me the other day of another group of people – who have chosen one of those awareness colours (green ‘because it’s the colour of March’) and a date (March 21st) and called it Limb Girdle Muscular Dystrophy (LGMD) day.
That’s what I have (of which there are many genetic types) but my first thoughts were ‘what’s the point’. Lot’s of people I know have liked the FaceBook group. In my line of thinking, unless you ‘do’ something like have some kind of national campaign, media coverage, advertising or do some kind of events then what will be gained?
I suppose if someone made up some ribbons and got friends or family to wear them at work or something they might attract a bit of attention – but if I see someone wearing a ribbon I can’t say I ever really know what all the colours represent or ever ask why the person is wearing one. I’m no more aware than if they didn’t wear it.
I remember the red one is for AIDS, pink is usually breast cancer but I really don’t know what the other colours are. As for people wearing green clothes – are they perhaps celebrating St Patrick’s Day or just like the colour green?
One of the things I do know is that Teal is the colour for Ovarian Cancer. I know this because my friend Dodie (who incidentally has LGMD) has OC. I have understood about this type of cancer through her life and friendship and the things she shares.
I think there is no better awareness then to live your life and let people learn along the way. Maybe, then, they can be motivated to help others, raise money or support the national charities like the Muscular Dystrophy Campaign who are really do make a difference to jo blogs like me!