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It's 'dress as a disabled person' day!

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Vaughan | 10:37 UK time, Friday, 1 May 2009

A big thanks to Ouch! reader Kirsty Martinsen for sending us this story from South Australia, where a primary school in Waikerie thought they had come up with a great plan to both promote disability awareness and raise money for a clinic in Bangladesh that repairs cleft lips and palates in children. The idea? A "disability day", planned for 29th May, in which children would come to school "dressed as a person with a disability". The newsletter that parents received telling them of this grand occasion went on: "There will be prizes for the best students dressed as a person with a disability. Get your thinking hats on and see what disability you can represent!"

Sounds brilliant, doesn't it? I'm picturing keen pupils getting hold of wheelchairs or white canes, over-sized hearing aids or dark glasses. Some of the really keen ones might even stick a home-made yellow harness on the family pooch and bring it to school for the day as a guide dog. And the kids will surely have hours of fun recreating those various wobbly disability movements and walks.

Or maybe not. It seems that the Student Representative Council, who came up with this wheeze, had little more in their minds than an intention for pupils to come in with a bandaged arm or leg. Which to me sounds more like a plain old unfortunate injury rather than the chance to try mimicking an exciting impairment.

Of course, there's also the significant matter that the "disability day" could well be regarded as offensive. And so it was. Australian Paralympic swimmer Matt Cowdrey said that whilst he was sure the school's intentions were good, it was not "the best way to raise attention", and there was criticism from disability advocacy groups too. When the Student Council received feedback from parents that the idea was in distinctly bad taste, they quickly dropped it. On 29th May, pupils are now being encouraged to come to school wearing bright colours and badges with smiley faces.


  • Comment number 1.

    LOL... OMG... "Brain Fart"


  • Comment number 2.

    Surely the most important thing to get across to kids is that disability is permanent and this sham completely lost the plot

  • Comment number 3.

    Um... what do they think disabled people dress like? Because I don't regard my crutch as something I wear, it's something I use. Yesterday I wore a kilt, fishnets and big boots, plus my favourite jacket - the crutch wasn't part of the outfit...

  • Comment number 4.

    Perhaps a better way of doing it could be to make students wear earplugs for a day, or use a wheelchair for a day, or crutches, or impaired sight. To better grasp the concept of permanents, by experiencing what its like, rather then dressing with a certian look. I mean sometimes you can't tell if someone is disabled or not because they seem lke everybody else. Perhaps it might be better to break the Disabled stereotype, People living with disabilities are not STUPID! It is time we started to teach our children that people living with disabilities, are equal to 'normal' people. They are not a curse or a plague that needs to be destroyed, they would be quit affective if able bodied people would look past their own ego and integrate them into the work place.

  • Comment number 5.

    I am completely disgusted with this article, how can you dress up as a disabled person, I agree with the use of a crutch is not a fashion accessory, it is a part of me, to give me support. I am a disability Awareness Trainer, and we do not adovocate simulation, also that this trainng should only be delivered by a qualified DET. I hope the school accept these remarks and do not use this form of teaching again. If kids want to dress up ask them about their favourite cartoon hero, I am sure that they will get so much more enjoyment out of that.

  • Comment number 6.

    Also in addition to what everyone has already said how would you dress up as a person with a Hidden Disability?

  • Comment number 7.


    Not participated in this activity....

    =Dennis Junior=


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