Hesperian Health Guides
Disabled Persons As Leaders and Workers in Rehabilitation Activities
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Some of the most exciting and meaningful community rehabilitation activities in various parts of the world are those that are led and staffed by disabled persons themselves. When the leaders and workers in a program are disabled, they can be excellent role models for disabled children and their parents. When they see a team of disabled persons working together productively, doing more to help other people than most able-bodied persons do, and enjoying themselves in the process, it often gives both family and child a new vision and hope for the future. This alone is a big first step toward rehabilitation.
|Disabled workers give an example to disabled children that they can lead a helpful, full life. Polo Leyva, severely disabled by polio, has become a skilled welder and wheelchair maker.|
Another reason for recruiting leaders and workers who are mostly disabled persons (or their relatives) is that they are more likely to work with commitment, to give of themselves. From their own experience, they understand the problems, needs, and possibilities of disabled persons. Because they, too, have often suffered rejection, misunderstanding, and unfair treatment by society, they are more likely to become leaders in the struggle for a fairer, more fully human community. Their weakness contributes to their strength.
Examples of community rehabilitation programs run by local disabled persons are in Chapter 55.