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Exhibition tells the real story of disability

23 October 2007

Our Stories exhibition tells the real story of disability

A multimedia exhibition that is out to change New Zealanders’ attitudes towards disability opens in Dunedin next month.

The Our Stories exhibition, part of Celebrate Diversity week, is on at the Dunedin Public Library from 26 November to 9 December. It challenges Kiwis to get to know people with disabilities – to see the person first, rather than the disability.

Based on photographs by Hanne Johnsen and Glenn Busch’s book, The Man With No Arms and Other Stories, the exhibition uses photographs, words and film to tell the stories of people with disabilities.

The project, run in partnership between CCS Disability Action and IHC, is more than just an exhibition. It includes workshops for schools and an information evening for service organisations and sport and recreation groups.

It sends the message that people with disabilities have a right to participate in the community, to share in family life, have a job and ambitions.

Throughout the exhibition, primary school pupils will take part in workshops at the Dunedin Public Library called “My Name Is …”, and in parallel workshops, intermediate school pupils interview people with disabilities for a film presentation entitled “Our Stories in Our Town ...”.

The workshops give primary and intermediate school students the chance to meet local people with disabilities and find out what it is like to live with a disability.

Photographer Hanne Johnsen has worked with Canterbury West Coast CCS Disability Action for two years to record the images that appear in the exhibition. Her photographs capture many personal moments and show the mutual rapport she has with the people she met.

In The Man With No Arms and Other Stories, Glenn Busch tells compelling and intimate stories of nine people who live with the reality of a disability. Busch’s collaborators speak candidly of growing up, the importance of work, family, relationships, parenthood, of wanting to be treated like everyone else in a world that still chooses to see them as different.

After a successful launch in Christchurch earlier this year, IHC and CCS Disability Action have formed a two-year partnership to take the exhibition to audiences around the country.

IHC New Zealand Inc is pleased to be working with CCS Disability Action on this project, says chief executive Ralph Jones. "The workshops break new ground, because people with disabilities are being profiled as the experts on their own lives. They will teach children about what an ordinary life means for them," he says.

“The Our Stories project is a far bigger, more varied and more exciting project than was first planned. There is no better way to begin to understand the varied experiences disabled people have in their daily lives than to listen to and see their stories,” says David Matthews, CCS Disability Action Regional Manager, Upper South.
The inaugural Celebrate Diversity Week in Dunedin, took place in the first week of December 2006. This year exhibitions, performances and workshops are scheduled from Saturday 24 November until Monday 3 December - which is the UN International Day of the Disabled Person. It celebrates the diverse skills and activities of the disabled in business, the arts, and education.

For further details, visit the website www.ourstories.co.nz


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