INTERNATIONAL DAY OF PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES
The CNMI made a giant leap yesterday by joining the rest of the world, and for the first time, in celebrating the International Day of People with Disabilities at the CNMI Center for Living Independently building on Capital Hill.
It was a day of positivity as PWDs were celebrated and heralded for the many contributions they do in the society. At the proclamation of the IDPWD, Lt. Gov. Arnold I. Palacios called for continued support for all PWDs in the Marianas.
“Gov. [Ralph DLG] Torres and I call on the people of the Marianas to continue to advocate for persons with disabilities and to ensure that they enjoy equal opportunities and have productive lives. They inspire us to keep our community stronger and closer,” Palacios said.
Through the proclamation, the government assures all of the islands’ PWDs, and their families, that the CNMI is committed to building an inclusive society and to providing an accessible environment for all.
The many contributions that PWDs make, both on the islands and abroad, were recognized, as well as their and their families’ role in inspiring the rest of the community by contributing as self-sufficient members of the CNMI.
One of those whose contributions were celebrated is that of John Demapan, transit information specialist at the Commonwealth Office of Transit Authority and Northern Marianas Protection and Advocacy Systems.
“Embrace your disability and do positive things with it,” Demapan said. “I encourage people to seek the services, be informed, and don’t shy away because if you do, you will not be able to get the services that you rightfully need and deserve.”
Demapan said the celebration is the first of its kind in the Marianas, with the day being celebrated internationally since 1992 to recognize and reflect on the contributions that PWDs have made in the workplace and in the community as a whole.
“This is a perfect opportunity for people with disabilities to get to know the services available [in the Marianas], such as finding a job with OVR, or finding transportation with COTA, or getting legal assistance with NMPASI, and also housing opportunities and other aspects that people without disabilities take for granted. So this a great day of reflection,” Demapan added.
Tinian Mayor Edwin P. Aldan provided the keynote speech, and nongovernment group VOICES of the CNMI shared their success stories. Entertainment was provided by the Guma Simiyan Mañaina-ta CCVI Dumatsuri Dance Group, Parker Yobei, Northern Star Band, and Tatz Selepeo, Big Jay Selepeo, and Abs Kaipat. Miss Earth Northern Marianas Leisha Deleon Guerrero was also one of the attendees.
The very first International Day of People with Disabilities celebration in the CNMI was organized by the Office of Vocational Rehabilitation, with all its disability network partners. For more information, contact OVR at (670) 287-6609 or visit www.ovrgov.net.