CEO Blog: International Day of People with Disability
Last week, a young person in my life dragged me to see the Hunger Games prequel, The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes.
One of the most striking aspects of the film for me was the clear, but understated presence of disability.
One of the ‘stars’ of the film, Peter Dinklage plays the central role of Casca Highbottom, and has achondroplasia and has used his profile from Game of Thrones to be an advocate for disability awareness. Sofia Sanchez, an actor with Down syndrome, plays the District 8 tribute Wovey. The second District 8 tribute Bobbin was played Knox Gibbon, an actor from Orange in NSW who is also an amputee.
Each character had specific plot points in the film, yet these were not centred around the character’s disability. In an interview with Knox Gibbon, he says “Bobbin doesn’t have a limb difference in the book. The limb difference is just incidental to the character. I don’t wear a prosthetic or anything. It’s not explained. It’s just that he’s an amputee, that’s all.”
In the online magazine ‘The Mary Sue’, writer Rachel Ulatowski highlighted the everyday ordinariness of the casting decisions. She said, “This batch of tributes feels more like what the reality would be at some of these Games, especially because there’s no evidence the Capitol distinguishes between tributes. It doesn’t matter to the Capitol who is chosen—if their name is reaped, they have to participate. No accommodations are made if a tribute is little more than a child, has Down syndrome, or is an amputee. They get tossed into the arena like everyone else.”
On December 3, we will be standing with people from countries around the world to observe the International Day of People with Disability.
The annual observance of the International Day of Disabled Persons was proclaimed in 1992 by the United Nations General Assembly. The Day aims to promote an understanding of disability issues and mobilise support for the dignity, rights, and well-being of persons with disabilities.
The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes gives me hope that by seeing the respectful representation of people with disabilities in popular culture, we can enrich the conversation about inclusion in all its forms.
The final word belongs to Sofia Sanchez, who said “It’s no big deal if you have [Down syndrome], or if you don’t have it. We can all be different. And we can all be included.”
Happy International Day of People with Disability!
Our team in the Hunter region are proud to be co-hosting a free event open to the entire community, aimed at promoting greater awareness and understanding of disability, and to showcase the incredible services available to people locally. Along with dozens of local disability service providers, the day will also feature entertainment, engaging activities like mini-golf, wheelchair basketball demonstrations, a wheelchair accessible hot air balloon basket and a free BBQ.
The event will be held at Maitland Basketball Stadium on Friday 1 December from 11.00am - 2.00pm, with free tickets available at this link.
Further information can also be found at the event page on Facebook.