Highlights from IWA AGM & Conference 2015
Monday 18th May 2015, Dublin: Former RTE Newscaster and Irelands best known psychoanalyst, Michael Murphy facilitated Irish Wheelchair Association’s (IWA) annual conference which took place in Dublin on Saturday, 16th May 2015. People with disabilities and others with reduced mobility travelled the length of Ireland to hear noted guest speakers who have broken down barriers, overcome adversity and challenged attitudes in order to excel in their chosen fields.
Members of the Association gathered for IWA’s 55th annual conference, ‘Attitudes & Access’ which was opened by young entrepreneur and accessible transport campaigner, Stephen Cluskey. Stephen recently won ‘Emerging Social Entrepreneur’ at the prestigious David Manley Entrepreneur Awards and was one of the key advocates behind the National Transport Authority’s grant schemes for wheelchair accessible taxis.
The disability campaigner shared his experiences of confronting the challenges associated with acquiring a disability and encouraged his peers to continue to ‘raise standards, promote independence and push for social change’.
This message was illustrated powerfully by keynote speaker at the event, Gerard O'Brien, a Thalidomide survivor, who despite being born with no arms and just one leg went on to have a hugely successful career in the legal profession. He moved the audience by sharing his personal journey and illustrating how he reached the pinnacle of the legal system, with his recent appointment by President Michael D. Higgins as a Judge of the Circuit Court last November.
Speaking at the conference, Irish Wheelchair Association CEO, Kathleen McLoughlin said:
When I look at Irish Wheelchair Association today and its 20,000 members, I am extremely proud to see how the hopes and dreams of our eight founding members have become a reality. When IWA was set up, challenges were great and expectations for people with physical disabilities were low. Through its work over the past five decades IWA has successfully influenced change for people with disabilities in every aspect of Irish life.
Irish Wheelchair Association is one of Ireland’s great success stories. It represents much that is good and valuable in our society. In IWA, people with disabilities have established, grown and developed an organisation that is there to support them at every stage in life, enabling them to live independently and equally alongside their neighbours.
The ongoing focus on a person-centred approach to our work is the key element in our success. By tapping into the wealth of knowledge and experience of our members, we are in an unrivalled position to effectively respond to their needs.