We are very proud to announce that the first annual conference, Facing Disabilities with Optimism (Enfrentando la Discapacidad con Optimismo), was held in Guayaquil, Ecuador on June 17th,2011. This conference was the first of it’s kind for the country of Ecuador. The Office of the Prefectura of Guayas along with Causes for Change International and ROMP (Range of Motion Project) worked to bring together this conference. Also in attendance at the invitation of Causes for Change were representatives from Dominican University, Midwestern University and the University of Illinois. From the start, these partners were all crucial in getting the conference up and running.
What began as a conversation with the founders of Causes and the Vice Prefecta, Luzmila Nicolaide, of Guayaquil has finally become a reality. After the Vice Prefecta enthusiastically declared: “Let’s do it!” in January, momentum has been gradually building to this day. Considering the warm reception from the public and the press, we consider it to have been a great success.
The vision of the conference centered on bringing together different sectors of the community, government and ordinary citizens alike to discuss some of the challenging topics surrounding persons with disabilities. Some of the issues included: attitudinal awareness, emotional and physical treatment of persons with disabilities, inclusion into the general population, the development of laws, accessibility concerns, the development of community programs and the brainstorming of new concepts and designs.
“Today came together where this had not been possible before,” said Zully JF Alvarado, founder of Causes for Change.
Many traveled long distances to attend this conference. Over 225 attendees learned about universal design, community involvement, social inclusion, occupational therapy and the development of orthotics and prosthetics. The conference shined a spotlight on the needs of persons with disabilities, caretakers, parents, nurses, doctors, and other specialists. Overall, it was a proud day for Causes for Change and gigantic step forward in public policy for Ecuador. It was a day we at Causes won’t soon forget.