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Black Tie International:
Disables Persons Rights and Contributions
Photos By:  Rose Billings/Blacktiemagazine.com

 

 

Rose Billings.  Photo by:  Joyce Brooks

Nightlife with Rose Billings

Disabled Persons Rights and Contributions Highlighted at the
 United
Nations
 



 

Disabled Persons Rights and Contributions Highlighted at the United Nations
 

Dr. Judy Kuriansky, International Association of Applied Psychology
 


(
front row): Mr. Kade Clemensen, Executive Director, BiiG Picture; Vice Minister Jan Christian Kolstø, Ministry of Culture of Norway; Mr. Werner Obermeyer, Executive Director a.i., WHO Office at the United Nations;
 (back row): Mr. Joseph Fofanah, Disability Coordinator, Sierra Leone Embassy, Washington D.C.; Dr. Judy Kuriansky, International Association of Applied Psychology, World Council for Psychotherapy and United African Congress; H.E. Mrs. Victoria Sulimani, Deputy Permanent Representative, Mission of the Republic of Sierra Leone to the United Nations; Mr. Gordon Tapper, President, United Africa Congress.

 


The global community is paying increasing attention to disabled persons.
On June 12, 2019, governments, UN agencies and NGOs co-hosted an event at the United Nations headquarters in NYC, entitled

“Reaching Higher Standards of Health and
Well-Being through Cultural Engagement, Empowerment, and Inclusion”

as part of
the UN Conference on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

 The co-sponsors
included the World Health Organization (WHO), the Permanent Missions of Norway
and the Republic of Sierra Leone to the United Nations, International Association of
Applied Psychology (IAAP), United African Congress (UAC), and the Psychology
Coalition of NGO’s Accredited at the United Nations (PCUN).
This event highlighted examples of initiatives around the world raising awareness
on achieving better health outcomes for those challenged by disability by presenting
positive policies and innovative programmes including community projects and
talents of persons with disabilities.

 

Vice	Minister	Jan	Christian	Kolstø,	Ministry	of	Culture	of

 

Vice Minister Jan Christian Kolstø, Ministry of Culture of Norway; Dr. Judy Kuriansky, International Association of Applied Psychology, World Council for Psychotherapy and United African Congress; Mr. Werner Obermeyer, Executive Director a.i., WHO Office at the United Nations

 

In opening remarks, Mr. Werner Obermeyer, Executive Director Ad Interim, WHO Office at the United Nations emphaszied that about 15% of the world population lives with a form of disability and that mental health, and depression particularly in youth and the elderly in particular, will be the leading cause of disability worldwide by 2030.
A recent survey showing that between 35% and 50% of people with serious mental disorders in developed countries and between 76% and 85% in developing countries did not receive needed treatment.

 

Representatives	from	Norway	(left	to	right):		Kjersti	Skarstad,	Annika

 

Representatives from Norway (left to right): Kjersti Skarstad, Annika Evensen, Counsellor; Jan Monsbakken, former President of Rehabilitation International Worldwide;
Guri Gabrielsen; Dr. Judy Kuriansky

 

Panelist on behalf of the co-sponsoring UN Member State of Norway, Minister Jan Christian Kolstø, Vice Minister from the Ministry of Culture of Norway, reported a recent Norwegian study where half of individuals with a disability reported considerable mental difficulties. Holistic care, including physical, social, mental and economic support, participation in cultural life and sports activity, and “combatting prejudice and intolerance is fundamental to my government,” he said. Their Strategy for the Quality of Persons with Disabilities, especially children and young people’s mental health, and a new 4th Action Plan focuses on mental health in women and children.

 
H.E. Victoria Sulimani, Deputy Permanent Representative, Mission of the Republic of Sierra Leone to the United Nations
 

Representatives from Sierra Leone: (seated, left to right): H.E. Victoria Sulimani, Deputy Permanent Representative, Mission of the Republic of Sierra Leone to the United Nations; Dr. Judy Kuriansky; (standing, left to right): Mr. Joseph Fofanah, Disability Coordinator; Sierra Leone Embassy, Washington D.C.; Ms. Linda Senesie, First Secretary, Mission of Sierra Leone to the United Nations; Ibrahim Jimissa, Finance Manager, Sierra Leone National Commission for Persons with Disability; James Taiwo Cullen, Chairman, Sierra Leone National Commission for Persons with Disability; Mohammed Francis Kabia, Director of Social Welfare in the Sierra Leone Ministry of Social Welfare, Gender and Children’s Affairs; Francis F. Solokor, Finance and Administrative Assistant, Westminster Foundation for Democracy; Saa Lamin Kortequee, Executive Secretary of the Sierra Leone National Commission for Persons with Disability

 

Representing the Permanent Mission of the Republic of Sierra Leone to the United Nations, H.E. Victoria Mangay Sulimani described that recent traumatic events in Sierra Leone of the 11-year old war, the 2014-2015 Ebola outbreak, and the 2017 mudslide increased rates of disability, leaving survivors with hearing, speech, and vision impairments. But the country has taken action: ratified the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities ten years ago; signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the adjoining country of the Republic of Guinea to eliminate barriers to access and inclusion of people with disabilities: passed the Disability Act of 2011 mandating free health care for people with disabilities; provides compulsory screenings at health care centers in 2018 for early identification of people with disabilities: plans to repeal the antiquated Lunacy Act of 1902, to remove stigma; a mid-term national plan of 2019 to 2023, centering on “Education for All” incorporating unprecedented visibility and inclusion of people with disabilities; a national commission focused on people with disabilities; creation of the Director for People with Disabilities in the Ministry of Social Welfare and Health; and administrative plans including the formulation of mental health programs to protect the rights and dignities of people with mental disorders; and a foundation by the First Lady Fatima Maada Bio to increase living standards for people with disabilities. Mr. Joseph Y. Fofanah, Administrative Assistant and Disability Coordinator representing the Sierra Leone Embassy in Washington DC. enumerated needs for the disabled including mobility, asking people for crutches, wheelchairs and canes; volunteers; musical instruments; and skills-training. A video was shown by Dr. Judy Kuriansky of the International Association of Applied Psychology, showing initiatives in Russia (the Congress of the Union of Mental Health; Community mental health centers in Georgia and by L’Arch around the world; a public restaurant run by disabled persons; the L’Arch program worldwide; and messages from Stevie wonder and the recent Tony Award winner for Oklahoma in a wheelchair

 

Representatives from the country of Georgia (from left): Dr. Rouzi Shengelia,

 

Representatives from the country of Georgia (from left): Dr. Rouzi Shengelia, Psychiatrist at Bronx Lebanon Hospital, New York City; Dr. Mariam Menteshashvili, psychiatrist, Community Mobile Treatment, Tbilisi, Georgia; Mrs. Elene Agladze, Deputy Permanent Representative, Mission of Georgia to the United Nations; Dr Judy Kuriansky

 

The country of Georgia was represented by Ms. Elene Agladze, Deputy Permanent Representative of Georgia to the United Nations, who described the “National Strategy and Action Plan” for 2015-2020 that calls for a shift away from long-stay hospitalization to a balanced service, including community-based centers, crisis intervention centers, social services, and a mobile team of doctors and psychologists who visit patients at home. In 2013, parliament passed the “State Concept on Mental Health” based on the principal of ensuring treatment of anyone with mental disorder with respect in a human rights framework, providing access to care, and ending discrimination and stigmatization. Georgia has also increased its financial commitment; in 2008, the mental health budget was increased by 33% (about USD$2 million) to improve community care services.” Georgian Psychiatrist Dr. Rouzi Shengelia described the innovative “Mobile Crisis Team” where a team of health service providers goes to visit people at home for care. psychiatrist from Georgia, currently working at Bronx Lebanon Hospital in New York City. She proudly wants replication of this program worldwide in an effort to cope with growing community mental health needs that can be replicated around the world.

 

Counsellor, Global Health, Education, Funds & Programmes, UNICEF,

 

Counsellor, Global Health, Education, Funds & Programmes, UNICEF, Financing for Development, Mission of Norway to the United Nations

 

Mr. Kade Clemensen, Executive Director of the BiiG Picture, an NGO to destigmatize and demystify child mental health and suicide, shared a moving testimonial of his mental health challenges as a child, and attempted suicide at the age of eight with his father’s gun – in stark contrast to outward success in swimming and basketball sports and many friends and siblings. Parents, teachers, clergy, siblings, and friends need to know how to talk about suicide and mental health issues. The BiiG Picture NGO creates a safe space of empathy and love prevails to break taboos and talk about mental health as flu or a broken arm; and to encourage Access, Funding, and Education. He said, “remind ourselves and children all around the world that it’s okay to open their hearts and share what they’re going through, and to remind ourselves to listen and offer support.”

 

Christopher Bailey, Lead, Arts and Health Programme, World Health

 

Christopher Bailey, Lead, Arts and Health Programme, World Health Organization, Geneva

 

Mr. Christopher Bailey with the Lead, Arts, and Health Programme at the World Health Organization, performed his monologue about the gradual loss of his eyesight (to 5% of normal), and how he handled and overcame his disability, entitled “The Mark of Cane: Journey Into Blindness.” There are 49 million blind people and 249 million clinically low-sighted people in the world, 90% of whom live in developing countries with little access to technologies. He described how he interacts with audiences using hearing and smell: “If I said something that made them laugh, made them gasp, it had the effect through the echolocation of lighting up the room.” He was once instructed about walking in a busy thoroughfare using the Doppler Effect of Ambient Sound Reflection, listening to the vanishing point of moving traffic to determine the physical dimensions around him. Our brains get rewired; when visual information is reduced, the plastic nature of our brains collects the equivalent of visual information through other senses as smell, touch, taste, and hearing. He quoted the familiar phrase from the spiritual hymn
 “Amazing Grace,”: "I WAS BLIND, BUT NOW I SEE."

 

H.E.	Victoria	Sulimani,	Deputy	Permanent	Representative,	Mission	of

 

H.E. Victoria Sulimani, Deputy Permanent Representative, Mission of Sierra Leone to the United Nations and Elene Agladze, Deputy Permanent Representative, Mission of Georgia to the United Nations

 

Richard Blewitt, Head of Delegation, Permanent Observer Delegation of the

 

Richard Blewitt, Head of Delegation, Permanent Observer Delegation of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) to the United Nations and
 Dr. Judy Kuriansky

 

Attendees, left to right, Candice Noble, Columbia University Teachers College

 

Attendees, left to right, Candice Noble, Columbia University Teachers College graduated student; Pat Addiss, Broadway producer; Russell Daisey, International Association of Applied Psychology; Dr. Michael Cole, United Africa Congress; Ran Fang, Ph.D. candidate in clinical psychology at Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Yeshiva University

 

Couple attending the event with seeing eye dog

 

Couple attending the event with seeing eye dog

 

H.E.	Victoria	Sulimani,	Deputy	Permanent	Representative,	Mission	of

 

H.E. Victoria Sulimani, Deputy Permanent Representative, Mission of Sierra Leone to the United Nations; Mohammed Francis Kabia, Director of Social Welfare in the Sierra Leone Ministry of Social Welfare, Gender and Children’s Affairs; and Attendee, Maria Viola Sánchez, Fielding Graduate University and American Psychological Association Society for Media Psychology and Technology, who came all the way from California for the event

 

Staff of WHO Office at the United Nations with Dr. Judy (middle): (left to

 

Staff of WHO Office at the United Nations with Dr. Judy (middle): (left to right): Jessica Clark, Sophie Evekink, Fatima Khan, Eva Kiegele

 

Support team for the event (left to right): Ran Fang, Ph.D. candidate in

 

Support team for the event (left to right): Ran Fang, Ph.D. candidate in clinical psychology at Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Yeshiva University; Jessica Clark, WHO; Eva Kiegele, WHO; Dr. Judy; Russell Daisey, International Association of Applied Psychology

 

H.E.	Victoria	Sulimani,	Deputy	Permanent	Representative,	Mission	of	Sierra

 

H.E. Victoria Sulimani, Deputy Permanent Representative, Mission of Sierra Leone to the United Nations and Dr. Judy Kuriansky, cheering the reports at the panel of the missions’ contributions to the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

 

In closing remarks, Dr. Judy Kuriansky commended the speakers on their brains and hearts, and acknowledged Norway, Sierra Leone, Georgia and other countries for innovative policy and programs that are ongoing in their nations. She acknowledged four projects: the Visibility and Inclusion Strategy launched by the Secretary General of the UN at the conference opening; the “Health in Your Hands” platform launched at the World Health Assembly in Geneva in May, for those with least access; the WHO-approved Arts and Health program promoting cultural performances of people with disabilities; and the “Biig Picture” for youth openness. She recommended: * the importance of policies and a holistic and multi-level prorgams including cultural creations to support inclusion and dispel myths and stigma about persons with disabilities, * multi-stakeholder partnerships that include Persons With Disability * moving away from institutions to community settings * ongoing focus on “Reaching Higher Standards of Health & Well-Being through Cultural Engagement, Empowerment & Inclusion” Finally, she also voiced determination to continue promoting Access, Visibility, Love, and Respect for all.

 
 
 
 
 

 

Gerard Mc Keon and Joyce Brooks.  Photo by:  Rose Billings/Blacktiemagazine.com

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