As another Intellectual Disability Awareness Month comes to a close, we want to reflect on the campaign and share some highlights.
Destigmatising Intellectual Disability Through Shifting Attitudes
The IDAM theme for 2023 was aimed at calls to the media and the general public to reflect on their attitudes to intellectual disability [ID] and how these attitudes might lead to stigma, discrimination and exclusion. We engaged with the public via social media with informative posts as well as weekly polls to see how much the public knew about ID. We also shared an Explainer Series to further unpack ID.
Shifting attitudes through storytelling
Sharing and amplifying the voices, perspective and stories of persons with ID is an effective way to create a shared understanding between people with ID and those without (Swipe Out Hunger, 2020). Last year’s IDAM campaign saw SAFMH undertaking a portrait series called: Through my Eyes. The aim behind the series was to capture pictures of persons with ID to share their stories, their potential and their beauty through the photographs. We reshared these photographs throughout the 2023 campaign. We also shared some personal stories from persons with ID, including Peter’s below:
Stigma is a very powerful word, and words can hurt deep within our hearts. “Mal, dom, stupid”… These are the things people say to us most days of our lives. I have learnt that those words are meaningless and that you can prove people wrong; you can show the world what you are made of and I believe I have done just that. The road is long and full of crossroads you have to make sure where to turn to.
The wonderful support that I have received throughout the years from the Mental Health Society who I have been involved with has been great and hard work comes with great rewards. It has been a long road from where I came from, stepping through the doors at the protective workshop as a trainee to being an intern at the Mental Health Society, 8 years later.
So just like the phoenix that rises from the ashes, I am rising.”
SAFMH Deputy Director, Leon de Beer, took part in the LITTLE EDEN Society’s 6th annual CEO Wheelchair Challenge. You can read more about it here.
Team SAFMH also held a lively and insightful workshop with 25 residents at The Hamlet Foundation. The session saw us engaging with the residents in an interactive dialogue to gain an understanding into their experiences but also to hear their perspective in their own words.
I want to be respected and treated like any other human being. People must not judge us because of our disabilities.” – A Hamlet resident
We rounded off IDAM 2023 by taking part in the Easy-to-Read Advocacy Movement’s very first webinar. Easy-to-Read provides us with a very tangible way in which we can reduce barriers and make information accessible to everyone, especially persons with intellectual disability. The webinar aimed to create awareness about Easy-to-Read and asked stakeholders to join hands to make Easy-to-Read widely available and accessible in South Africa. You can watch the recording below.
All in all it was another wonderful IDAM campaign and we hope that people will continue to heed our calls to share stories about the importance of ending stigma in the community, education and employment as well as calling call on everyone in South Africa to join hands with us to shift local attitudes to promote changes to people’s attitudes all over the country.