When Vernon resident Crystal Williams was in a car accident seventeen years ago, her life changed dramatically.
She was left with “a traumatic brain injury,” and leg injuries that require her to use a cane to walk. In short, Williams says she became disabled — a term that she says can cover a broad spectrum of conditions, not all of which are “immediately visible.”
Williams said a lack of education and understanding about some of these conditions often contributes to stigma, as well as to create a number of barriers that can affect a person’s “full participation in society.” She encountered some of these barriers herself while completing her social work degree at UBC Okanagan.
Williams, now 35, said she uses her experiences to help others while advocating for better accessibility and inclusivity. She is currently spearheading an Abilities Art Show she hopes will shine a light on these issues.
“There is definitely still stigma out there that prevents people from believing they are worthy and leaves them feeling like they don’t belong. We want to break that down and show people that they are worthy, and let them know it is possible to strive to achieve something in any environment so they can overcome those challenges,” she explained.
Under the theme ‘Breaking Down Barriers and Celebrating Abilities’ Williams says the art show will feature works from artists of all ages, backgrounds and abilities, with the goal of highlighting the rights and well-being of “persons with disabilities” in all spheres of society.
The event is a fundraiser for the YOU Group, which is coordinated to provide social support for youth with disabilities, and create further community links while building skills for independent living.
Williams said the show is also an early celebration of International Day of Persons with Disabilities, which falls on Dec.3. Proclaimed in 1992, by the United Nations General Assembly, International Day of Persons with Disabilities aims to promote the rights and well-being of persons with disabilities and to increase awareness of the situation of persons with disabilities in every aspect of political, social, economic and cultural life.
The Abilities Art Show is set for Saturday, Dec.2 at the People Place in Vernon and takes place between 10 .m. and 3 p.m. and includes a silent auction and treats. Funds raised through the silent auction will go toward the YOU Group. There is no charge for admission but donation are appreciated.