Monday, February 8, 2010

Media update

Digital Media Commons, Monterey Institute of International Studies by Ryan Gonzalez

Mobility International, USA by Stephanie Gray

Friday, December 4, 2009

December 3rd, United Nations International Day of Persons with Disabilities

The UN International Day of Persons with Disabilities started off pretty interesting as our Messenger of Peace was Stevie Wonder. General-Secretary Ban ki-moon mentioned that PwDs should be included in the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). He later introduced Stevie Wonder.

Then Stevie Wonder spoke but during his speech, the fire alarm went off and all of us had to evacuate the building. Since we waited outside for a while, Stevie Wonder, General-Secretary Ban Ki-moon, Ambassador Susan E. Rice (who was scheduled to speak) left. Stevie never finished his speech.

When we got back in the conference room, children from a school in Brooklyn sang Stevie Wonder songs.

Then panelists from the World Bank, Philippines, Republic of Tanzania, World Health Organization, United Nations High Commissioner on Human Rights, and AARP spoke. Some of them talked about disability rights laws passed in their countries and the need to include people with disabilities in the MDGs but did not offer practical steps in the “how.” They acknowledged this problem. The panelists said getting data and stats on disability in time for the MDGs review progress in 2010 is the biggest challenge. Although there is some information available, we still need to send the information out to the government in 2010.

After lunch, the NYC Commissioner Matthew Sapolin from the Mayor’s Office of Persons with Disabilities spoke about community and economic empowerment for PwDs through aggressive dialog with their constituents with disabilities, meetings, forums, seminars, and conferences, and coalition building with groups who will benefit such as seniors citizens and people with disabilities.

The celebration closed with four international films focused on positive images of people with different disabilities, and a reception followed.

Monday, November 16, 2009

November 14th, Ms Wheelchair DC Gala 2009

Congratulations to Maria, Ms Wheelchair DC 2010!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

October 6th, The Mayor's Annual Disability Awareness Conference

In recognition of Disability Awareness Month, Mayor Adrian Fenty and his administraion (bottom right photo) held the Mayor's Annual Disability Awareness Conference in DC. This year's agenda was Employment for All. People with disabilities often times encountered numerous barriers in finding employment. The federal and local government of DC are starting many initiatives to actively recruit people with disabilities in government. There will be a job fair conference focused on recruting people with disabilities next year. Federal agencies are supposed to have job openings to hire people with disabilities. Be sure to look out for more information to come.

While there are many challenges to securing employment, there are also success stories. Wendy Batson, Executive Director of Handicap International (top left), and I had the opportunity to talk about employment success stories at HI.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

October 3rd, President Barack Obama with First Lady Michelle Obama

After visiting Georgetown, my husband, Dominic and I decided to have dinner at the Blue Duck Tavern. When we arrived at the restaurant, there were two men from the secret service checking everyone at the door. I didn’t understand why we had to be scanned if we were just having dinner. I asked the hostess and she said there was a “celebrity dining here tonight.” Before we got seated, Dom and I went to the restroom where Dom was accompanied by the secret service in the men’s room and I was accompanied by the hostess in the women’s restroom. When the hostess took us to our table, we had to go through the kitchen where the hostess knocked at the door three times before the secret service opened the kitchen door. The same man who had scanned me earlier at the front door wanted to scan me again. I told him that he had already scanned me so there was no need to do it twice. I felt as though I was being treated differently because I use a wheelchair. I was insistent and did not allow the secret service guy to scan me. So he backed off, acknowledging the fact that he had indeed scanned me already.

We got seated to our table. Fifteen minutes later, I saw First Lady Michelle Obama in a nice evening black dress and behind her was President Barack Obama in a suit without a tie walking 10 feet away from our table. I said to Dom it was “Obama”, and Dom with disbelief on his face said “yeah, right” thinking I was pulling his leg. I told him to turn around and sure enough, Dom saw President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama. The four of us made eye contacts. Dom in complete coolness nodded at the President while I waived. The President returned a nod to Dom. Then the President and First Lady left the restaurant with several vehicles behind them, one including an ambulance. Dom and I looked at each other with complete satisfaction as one of our dreams became a reality. Of all the US presidents in our lifetime, Dom and I only have wanted to meet President Obama. Why you ask? Because we wanted to thank President Obama for valuing the human rights of people with disabilities internationally. Now that the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) has been signed by the US, we hope the Senate will be ratifying it soon.

Later, Dom and I found out that the President and First lady were at the Blue Duck Tavern celebrating their 17th wedding anniversary. Congratulations!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

July 30th, UN CRPD Signing Reception

Middle - Ambassador Susan E. Rice (Permanent U.S. Representative to the United Nations)
Bottom left – Michael Winters (US Department of Transportation)

Top left - Valerie B. Jarrett (Senior Advisor and Assistant to the President for Intergovernmental Affairs and Public Engagement)
Top right – Kareem Dale (White House Advisor for Disability Policy)

Celebrating US signing of the CRPD!!

Friday, July 24, 2009

July 24th, President Obama signed commitment to UNCRPD

As Wheelchair America First Runner Up, I want to congratulate President Obama for his leadership in making the commitment to sign the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) in commemoration of the 19th Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

Handicap International (HI), the international NGO that I am working with this summer in the Washington DC area, gave me an opportunity to write about this historical moment. Please click on the website below to read the brief:

Furthermore, in celebration of today's monumental achievement in the disability rights community, I visited all three branches of the U.S. Federal Government- the White House where President Obama signed a document to send Ambassador Rice to sign the UNCRPD in New York next week, the Capitol where laws were being passed for healthcare, and the Supreme Court where liberty and justice united. I believe Franklin D. Roosevelt would have been proud of our victory to human rights for all people.