Michael McEwan: The disability events I'm looking forward to in 2019

Michael McEwan, CommonSpace columnist and chair of his local disability group, looks forward to some key events in the 2019 calendar for disabled people in Scotland

LAST year saw the Down Syndrome Congress in Glasgow from 25-27 July, which provided a once in a lifetime opportunity for families, professionals and people with Down's Syndrome to share information and experiences about the condition. 

There was also a dedicated programme for those attending with Down's Syndrome, including The Gathering , which took place on 24 July. This was a day to share conversations and make friends, whilst learning about how to speak up and human rights. 

The Congress speakers included Scottish Para Swimmer Fiona Dawson, Elaine Scougal, mother to Down's Syndrome twins, author and script writer Andy Merriman and his daughter Sarah.

This year will see the International Association for the Scientific Study of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (IASSIDD), which is coming to Glasgow from 6-9 August.

This conference will see over 1,200+ international researchers, academics and practitioners all working in the field of learning disability research, people with learning disabilities and their families coming together. The event will be over four days at the SECC.

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This will be the 16th conference and the theme will be ‘Future 4all’. Approximately 1200 to 1500 attendees are expected from member countries across the world.

The event will also focus on “human rights and fundamental freedom of people with intellectual and development disabilities, their families and those who support them throughout the world”. IASSIDD hopes “to stimulate high quality and innovative research encompassing interdisciplinary interest and methodological diversity , to engage in worldwide exchange of evidence- based knowledge with relevant stake holders.”  

So at this congress there will be scientific presentations, keynote speeches and an opportunity to network. There will be research groups meeting in a variety of areas including ageing, challenging behaviour and mental health, ethics, inclusive education and quality of life. 

Registration for the conference opens on Monday 4 February.

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Conferences such as these make such a difference to those with a disability, their families and healthcare professionals. They give confidence and a voice to many who don't have anyone to speak for them, and they are a great chance to share insightful experiences and influence future generations. 

There are also a number of para sporting events coming up this year across Scotland. 

The first ever Scottish Disability Badminton National Championships takes place on 26-27 January at Dalkeith School Campus in Edinburgh. 

The Home Nations Indoor Disability Bowls Championship takes place on 22-24 March in Glasgow Indoor Bowls Club, Prospecthill, Glasgow. 

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Dalmahoy Hotel and Country Club welcomes golfers with a disability from around the world to the Scottish Pan-Disability Open Golf Championship on 8-10 September.

Whilst there are a number of disability social, sporting and educational events held annually across Scotland, many which are run by people with disabilities, I feel that there is still a lot more that can be done.

With each new event comes inspiration, particularly sporting events that create positive role models for aspiring young athletes encouraged to focus not on their disability, but on their ability.

Picture courtesy of Clare Black

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