Thursday January 3, 2013
Extend a helping hand
By ANTHONY THANASAYAN
WHAT I like most about the New Year is the opportunity it gives us to become a better person.
New beginnings help us to stop, take stock of what we’ve been doing with our lives, and then go out and do something positive.
Making resolutions is a great way to get started.
Here are some suggestions which I hope you will find useful in helping people with special needs.
Make friends with a disabled person
People with disabilities face all sorts of obstacles which the non-disabled do not experience. Listening to their stories and going out with them will open your eyes to the many barriers they face in society. A trip to the shopping mall or going to the movies can turn out to be a wonderful and enlightening experience. Yes, the blind love the latest blockbuster, too.
Read to the blind
There are scores of visually impaired people who would love to have volunteers read to them. You can do this by fixing a time and day that is convenient for both of you, and read to them over the phone. You can choose to read the highlights of the week’s news or a book. Centres for the blind also need volunteers to record readings for the blind.
Talk to the Deaf
Take up a new challenge – learn sign language. There are Deaf classes run by non-governmental organisations which reach out to the hearing impaired.
It’s high time the public saw the Deaf as capable people who can do more than waitressing.
Sign language interpreters should also be provided at all events.
Local councils, the police and all public services should have at least a couple of staff trained in sign language so that they can serve the Deaf.
This includes Catholic priests who listen to confessions of church members. The Deaf have a right to full confidentiality when seeking absolution for their sins.
There are 101 things that we can do for disabled or elderly persons who live alone.
Get their groceries or medication when we get ours. Wheel them to the park. Bathe and walk their dogs which offer them therapy. Offer caregivers a break by volunteering to help out for an hour or two. Youth groups can offer to clean the house. The list is endless.