This poem is about the ﬁght for independent living which began in California where several people with disabilities wanted to go to college and be recognised as individuals rather than just by their disabilities. Even though their challenges were signiﬁcant they did not give up. In 2012 I watched the opening ceremony of the Paralympic games in London and was surprised to learn that for athletes the challenges in some countries were so great that the British oﬃcials were discouraged from giving equipment to them because it couldn’t be maintained or it would be taken away when the competitors return home.
When I heard this I felt so lucky to live in a country where independent living for people with signiﬁcant physical disabilities is possible. However, even now, in Ireland we are currently ﬁghting for the legal right to have the equal life that personal assistant enables us people with physical disabilities to have.
Disability rights came from civil rights
In California, people with disabilities
recognised the ﬁght for black people’s freedom
so they could ﬁght for their freedom as well
A few wanted to live on their own
And some to go to college
To feed their thirst for knowledge
They succeeded in their goal
So in many souls the dream took form
For the ultimate prize and human right:
To live, learn and work like everyone else
And so the independent living movement was born!
In 1992 this freedom was given to you and me
When Ireland began creating its own freedom dream
There are over one billion people with disabilities on the planet
But we are not all equal
Very few have the freedom that I speak of above
If they are lucky they may ﬁnd hope through sport
And if their governments give them enough support
To represent their nation at Paralympic Games
Only to have the equipment taken away on their return home
In some cultures disability is even worse
Because of the belief that a disability
Is the result of a curse on the family several generations back
It is my hope that this dream of freedom becomes a human rights
Be realised in every country of the World
No matter how challenging this dream may seem.