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Group partners with Mexican disabilites effort

Parkland Community Living and Supports Society has partnered with STIMULO Foundation in Mexico on a three-year, $630,000 project to help children with disabilities in Mexico.

The project sprang from a 2010 pilot project that found aboriginal children with disabilities in Mexico are often marginalized and do not fully participate within their families, schools and communities.

“Parkland CLASS started as a parent organziation 50 years ago.

“The issues that were being faced by parents 50 years ago are very similar relative to the negative views and discrimination that existed then, and the negative views and exclusion and discrimination that exist in developing nations today,” said Phil Stephan, CEO of Parkland Community Living and Supports Society (CLASS), on Monday.

“These negative beliefs deny basic human rights and suggest that individuals with disabilities cannot make simple choices, they won’t become productive citizens, and they are burdens to their families and their communities.

“These limiting beliefs are wrong and they need to be challenged and changed.”

Funding for the project came from the federal government through the Canadian International Development Agency.

Stephan said the Red Deer non-profit submitted its application at just the right time.

“In 2010, the federal government of Canada ratified the UN Convention on the rights of persons with disabilities and through that ratification they started to focus on what as a government they could do to promote the rights of individuals with disabilities.”

Parkland CLASS will assist 250 to 300 families in the State of Morelos to learn new rehabilitation skills and techniques to support their children’s development.

Work will be focused in 10 communities in three rural regions and two impoverished districts in the state capital of Cuernavaca.

Each family will be able to participate in 16 workshops, along with regular home visits.

As part of the project, local parent support organizations will also be established to continue the advancement of disability rights after the project ends.

“There’s only three or four Canadian organizations that undertake any international development activities related to disabilities. We’re actually undertaking one of the larger projects,” Stephan said.

In the past 12 years, Parkland CLASS has undertaken initiatives and training programs in Argentina to promote disability rights, advocacy and social inclusion in partnership with ITINERIS Foundation of Buenos Aires.

About 14,000 people have participated in training programs in Argentina.

Parkland CLASS continues to do five to eight small projects in Argentina every year, Stephan said.



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