Puppets Bring Home Disability Awareness

A unigue disability awareness project in Ulster – which uses disabled puppets – is thought to be the first of its kind in the UK. One in six of the young people under 25 in Northern Ireland is disabled and Phab NI Inclusion Matters is the principal independent and voluntary youth organisation, which works for inclusion of these young people in society by providing personal development and youth work opportunities for people up to 25-years-old.

The Phab NI Inclusion Matters Kids on the Block scheme aims to help children and young people to understand and empathise with people with disabilities and, as a result, achieve inclusion of disabled people into the community. The project uses specially developed puppets – each with their own disability – to introduce issues of disability and social inclusion to primary school aged children.

firmus energy, the gas supply company, has pledged its support to the project and will provide funds to allow the roadshow to be taken to schools and youth groups throughout the province.

Phab NI Inclusion Matters director Rainer Pagal explained: “Our aim is to ensure full inclusion of people with disabilities in all walks of life.

“The existing barriers of fear and prejudice among able bodied people are challenged. Lack of contact with people with disabilities sustains the belief that they are ‘different’ and do not have the same aims in life as their non-disabled peers.”

“By using puppets, Kids on the Block offers opportunities for children and young people to explore attitudes to disability in an informal and supportive setting. Sensitive questions can be answered in a straightforward manner.

“This sponsorship partnership with firmus energy will enable our project to expand to primary schools, playgroups and youth and community groups throughout Northern Ireland.

” We are very grateful to firmus energy as without their generous support we would not be able to ensure the success and survival of this project,” added Rainer Pagal.