The first event of its kind, Halifax disabilityX 2019 will be held on Jan. 24 to raise positive awareness about the reality of disability and the lives of disabled individuals.
The event will bring together individuals of all walks of life to paint a realistic picture of disability and to empire those with disabilities to become leaders in their communities.
“It normalizes and humanizes disability and disabled people,” said Paul Vienneau, event co-organizer and prominent advocate for individuals with disabilities.
Vienneau has organized a number of events to promote awareness about the disabled community, but this is the first year he is organizing disabilityX. The idea was inspired by TEDx talks that routinely take place in Halifax.
“I decided to just put my own on. The idea being that it wouldn’t be the way that the media portrays disability, especially social media,” explained Vienneau.
The evening will consist of a number of speakers including disabled artists, advocates, and activists.
Also speaking at the event is Canadian Armed Forces veteran, Eric Payne. Payne spent 23 years in the CAF, mostly serving in the Royal Canadian Navy.
He was released from the military after a motorcycle accident resulted in the amputation of his left leg. He has since become a public speaker and stand up comedian, inspiring others from his story.
Besides hearing from a panel of speakers, the audience will also be given a chance to ask questions during a Q&A session at the end of the evening.
The goal of the event is to steer away from stereotypes portrayed in the mass media and gain empathy, not sympathy through a universal message.
Vienneau hopes the event will further spread the message that all people deserve to be included, recognizing that this is the time to stand up for the rights of the disabled.
“Through legislation and action we are claiming our part of the pie,” noted Vienneau.
However, it’s really events such as these, says Vienneau, that will make a real change throughout society.
“The legislation is awesome, but that’s not when the change is going to come. The change is going to come when people change their minds and their hearts and embody all these values. So, we’re slipping that under the door while we’re entertaining people,” added Vienneau.
To make sure all guests of the event are included facilities such as ASL Interpretation, CART Captioning, Wheelchair Accessibility will be provided. The event is gender inclusive.
Halifax disablityX 2019 will be held Thursday, Jan. 24 from 7 to 9 p.m. at the Bus Stop Theatre.
Tickets are sold out online but are still available at the door. The box office opens at 5:30 p.m. on Jan. 24. For more information visit the Facebook event page.