The wheels are in motion for the establishment of a brand new group aimed at representing Laois people with physical disabilities and impairments.
Raheen native Leo Kavanagh, a long time advocate for people with disabilities, is the driving force behind the new group.
Mr Kavanagh explained how the long term goal of the organisation is to go national and they are currently working on a mission statement – with details of the group’s name to be confirmed too.
Leo said: “A politician once told me that they don’t find disability a ‘sexy topic’ but when 13.8% of the population have a physical disability or impairment, it is certainly a topic that impacts many people.
“Myself and the people involved with the group have put in a lot of hours to get this up and running and I am proud to launch it here in Laois first.
“We are hoping to set up a group that, by listening to the voice of disabled people and strengthening their voice here in Laois, can assist people with disabilities in the future.
“And this also goes for people care for a family member or friend that has a disability.”
The new group will be controlled by people with disabilities and their families/guardians/carers which meets the objectives towards independent living.
It also intends to realise their dreams and ambitions, by providing information, advice and support to people.
Mr Kavanagh said: “We want to improve disability awareness in Laois, therefore getting people with disabilities involved by giving them a voice.
“Integrate people with disabilities into their own community. Our group in the long term would hope to assist in setting up, modelling and evaluating service models for the management of residential homes thus providing a framework to develop an attitude of co-operative and independent living. Therefore, allowing people with Physical Impairments/Disabilities to live independent lives of their own choice in their community.
“Provide access for people with disabilities to education up to and including higher education i.e. third level
“Provide a wide range of information on different disabilities, information lectures by health professionals and information days in Laois.
“Lobby both the local authority and Government for a change in policies in relation to people with disabilities and their families/carers in Laois.
“Assist in empowering people with disabilities by providing practical assistance to enable the person to exercise control over their own lives.
“Another of our aims is to promote empowerment, independence and rights to people with disabilities through the provision of services such as the Personal Assistant Service.
“Raise awareness that people with disabilities have civil rights to run their own lives, be active participants in society, permanent and ongoing Personal Assistant Service, personal development and more.
“Acquisition of funds and resources to further the groups/organistions’ objectives.
“Work to seek full and equal rights of people with disabilities, their inclusion in all aspects of society and to encourage and ensure the provision of appropriate services/supports to enable this to happen.
“Aim to highlight the continuing quest for a more equal and fairer society with the same opportunities for all and where the worth of people with disabilities is recognised and valued.
“And also develop services that achieve inclusion in society.”
If you are interested or would like further information you can contact Leo on firstname.lastname@example.org or 087-2738194.