The Southern Alberta Individualized Planning Association (SAIPA) hosted its 12th annual citizens walk on Sept. 16, with a goal to raise awareness of issues people living with disabilities face in the community. More than 100 people gathered in Galt Gardens after a march from city hall for the event.
“This is all under the work of bringing people together so that we can really highlight what are important issues in the disability sector right now,” said Mark Davids, executive director of SAIPA. “There’s always been issues over time but the ones that are most important right now I’d say, after all the restrictions have been lifted for COVID-19 — they have really highlighted issues with transportation, being able to access your community, being able to use the bussing system.”
He added inflation, especially with Assured Living for the Severely Handicapped (AISH), not being indexed to match it, has put a lot of strain on many people.
The event included a barbeque at the park, talent show and Indigneous dancing. It also featured speakers.
“If there was one thing that people remember today or from this event is that we are all empowered and engaged citizens,” Davids said. “We have not achieved equality if there are barriers for people to access things even in their own community, whether that is transportation or just being able to heat your home in the winter. If you are not able to afford those things like everyone else, how are you an equal citizen?”
He said the goal of the event is to keep these issues top of mind, especially for people who are making policies and programs that affect those living with disabilities.