Wednesday, August 29, 2007


“HAVE WE DONE ENOUGH?” was the theme of the seminar held on the 18th & 19th August 2007 at the Tanjung Bungah Hotel, Penang, Malaysia. Every two years the three dedicated centers for cerebral palsy in Malaysia, would take turn to organize a national level seminar to highlight and voice out the needs and rights of individuals with cerebral palsy; and to find some solutions for problems and needs faced by them.

The Cerebral Palsy Children’s Association of Penang hosted the seminar for this year. The theme of the seminar itself speaks louder about the rising concern over the needs to do more to improve the living standard of the individuals with cerebral palsy. The keynote address by Professor Roy McConkey, a Professor of Learning Disability at the University of Ulster, Northern Ireland, was interesting. He is a psychologist by training and has more than 30 years of experience in the field intellectual disability. In his keynote address, Professor Roy emphasized on three possibilities which could answer the theme, “Have We Done Enough”, i.e. YES we have done enough, NO we haven’t done enough and We DON’T KNOW whether we have done enough. If the answer to the theme is a YES, What more can we do? If the answer is a NO, what can we do to help ourselves? And, if we don’t know, what can we do?.

Throughout the two days seminar and the post seminar workshop, Professor Roy touched on the need to explore new ventures, search for new possibilities and create new partnership if we are to provide a firm footing for persons with disability. He also stressed on the pertinent issues such as the need to develop talents, nurture positive attitudes, create better opportunities and promote self-reliance for the persons with disabilities generally, and especially for the individuals with cerebral palsy. But, to explore and nurture these four areas of development, serious consideration should be given towards establishing new partnerships, which involve mainly the individual with disabilities, his/her family members, the community and the specialists. By giving attention to these important aspects of life, we can surely provide a better future for them.

There were also talks on independent living, positive side to caring, how to generate opportunities for people with learning disability, personal experiences and viewpoints of individuals with cerebral palsy. Among the concern raised were self advocacy for the cerebral palsy individuals, and the necessity of independent living. Both are still in its infancy in Malaysia and may require active involvement of all parties especially the Government in order to streamline a systematic process of self-advocacy and independent living. Overall, at the end of the seminar, some ideas and resolutions were presented to be forwarded to relevant authorities, so that the suggestions and ideas shared during the seminar can be effectively implemented.

At the end the seminar, I asked myself, “HAVE WE DONE ENOUGH?” I feel we have not done enough for them. We are busy with our own lives and problems. We worry a lot about the work pressures and the stress impact on us. We are concern more about our own interests most of the time. And, the question “HAVE WE DONE ENOUGH?” is not a new one. It arises within everyone of us but to suit our own needs. This time it is being asked for the benefits of some less fortunate souls around us, whose existence need to be lauded before we realised that they are here amidst us. It’s a timeless and appropriate question for all ages. At different times and climes, changes are certain. Together with changes, comes different type of necessities which requires new kind of adaptation.

We can go on asking this question throughout our lifetime. As long as we wallow in our own selfish world, which we experience through the narrowing windows of perception, until then the question shall remain, “HAVE WE DONE ENOUGH?” Though we can’t quantify the efforts made to help the people with disabilities, we can always do something to inculcate values into their lives and upgrade their living standards. The integrity and dignity of a person irrespective of one’s belief, culture, language, race or religion, must always be upheld. If we, the community, fail in our efforts to provide quality living standards for the disabled persons, we may end up losing our ground for humanity. And, our failure in identifying the missing link to their predicaments may result in many unimaginable situations in the future.

As Professor Roy McConkey said during his presentations, There are two gifts we can give people with disabilities, one is roots, the other is wings. In another word, we should accentuate the process of rooting and gradually see that the flying takes place.

Here I would like to extend my sincere Thanks for his generous contribution towards the success of the seminar. Thank you Roy.

Errors under your tender care.
Mistake are mine.
Corrections are yours.

©cyclopseven 2007. All rights reserved.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for for sharing this write up.
    As for me obviously the answer is 'NO'. Hope my actions will speak louder than words. Take care.