Dagenham event celebrates achievements of disabled people
PUBLISHED: 12:00 04 December 2019
Disabled people across the borough have gathered for an annual celebration of their achievements in spite of stigma and misconception.
Dagenham and Redbridge Football Club played host to the Barking and Dagenham International Day of Disabled People (IDDP) on Tuesday, December 3.
Singers, dancers and musicians pushed against what many people think they can't do by taking to the stage.
Neal Crowley, a 37-year-old from Dagenham, has chaired the event since 2013. He's lived with cerebral palsy his entire life - the condition affects movement and co-ordination.
"It celebrates the achievements of disabled people," he said of the event.
"We're promoting inclusion. It's about us creating a fun and safe environment where people can come together."
Mr Crowley is trying to challenge common misconceptions about disabled people with the day, which is celebrated across the world.
"Disabled people can do almost anything that a normal person does," he added, "Disabled people just need more time.
"People can help by having no preconceived ideas about disabled people.
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"People see me in a wheelchair and think, 'He can't do much.'"
He wants able-bodied people to come to events like IDDP and challenge those preconceptions.
Marks Gate's Keith Smith, 56, is vice chair of the IDDP sub-committee. He said: "The biggest achievement is bringing the community together to break down the barriers that prevent disabled people from being able to access the community on an equal basis."
Dan White is a disability and mental health campaigner. He has a 13-year-old daughter who's in a wheelchair.
"[This event] goes to prove that whether you're old or young in this community [the disabled community] you can be recognised for your power and influence and service," he said.
"They need to be given the chance to vocalise more and tell people more about this community that we're all so proud of."
Mayor of Barking and Dagenham Peter Chand was at the IDDP as well. He works professionally with people who have learning disabilities.
"[This] isn't about their disabilities, but their abilities," he said.
"You see the different skill sets that they've got. They've got so much more that they can give society.
"It's showcasing what they can give back to the community."
More information can be found at bdiddp.btck.co.uk.