Walkinstown, Dublin 12
Kayleigh McKevitt is 22 and from Walkinstown, Dublin 12. She recently graduated from Ballyfermot College of Further Education (BCFE) with a Diploma in Radio and Journalism. Kayleigh has Cerebral Palsy and is a wheelchair user. She is currently seeking employment and is looking forward to entering the workforce.
During college, Kayleigh was supported by a Personal Assistant (PA) who assisted her with the day-to-day tasks she finds difficult or impossible to carry out by herself. Kayleigh’s PA was available to support her during the college term and played a key role in her life during this period. Kayleigh has recently applied for a Personal Assistant Service to support her at home and to assist her to live independently in her local community.
Kayleigh McKevitt is supporting Irish Wheelchair Association’s ‘Is it cos of my wheels?’ campaign which highlights the many challenges and obstacles prohibiting people with disabilities from living full and independent lives. Irish Wheelchair Association (IWA) has called on the Government to focus on three key areas in the upcoming Budget: investment for an accessible public transport system; plans for appropriate and affordable housing; and additional funding for Personal Assistant Services.
The Personal Assistant Service supports individuals in their homes and communities facilitating community participation, access to education, employment and an overall improved quality of life. Personal Assistants provide the arms and legs for the person with a disability and are essential to ensure that they can live equal and independent lives in the same manner as their family members, friends, neighbours and peers.
Working with and on behalf of people with physical disabilities to drive positive change in Ireland, IWA developed the ‘Is it cos of my wheels campaign?’ alongside its members to demonstrate the inequality people with physical disabilities face on a daily basis.
Joining IWA outside Leinster House, Kayleigh McKevitt alongside IWA’s CEO Rosemary Keogh and other supporters, submitted a petition signed by over 8,000 people.
Speaking at Leinster House, Kayleigh described the importance of the Personal Assistant Service:
“While I was in college, I was lucky to have the support of a Personal Assistant. This was an essential and vital part of my studies and allowed me to participate fully in all aspects of college life. Now that I have graduated, I have applied for a Personal Assistant Service so that I can access employment and no longer have to rely on the support of my family. I am hopeful that if I receive Personal Assistant hours it will mean I can think about further education opportunities, apply for jobs and gain a greater level of independence”.
As part of the ‘Is it cos of my wheels?’ campaign, IWA are requesting that the Government provide funding for an extra 500,000 personal assistant hours so that people with disabilities are not isolated in their own homes or not left in emergency situations.
IWA on behalf of their members is calling on the Government to change the Government’s unfair treatment of people with disabilities and to ensure Budget 2018 is an inclusive budget for all, so that people with disabilities have a fair and equal opportunity to live their lives independently.