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Celebrate the abilities of people with disabilities, says founder of Langley advocacy group

Annual inclusion-based event will have police and fire personnel competing
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Langley Pos-Abilities Society is a team of volunteers. (Langley Pos-Abilities Society/Facebook)

Zosia Ettenberg moved to Langley many years ago as a physiotherapist, but as a person with a physical disability, her experiences accessing public facilities remained the same – often disappointing.

Ettenberg had polio as a child. The situation worsened with age, and she ended up requiring a wheelchair.

A long-time activist for disability rights and an experienced medical practitioner, Ettenberg was able to identify “many many” gaps in the system – gaps that make life more difficult for people living with disabilities, she said.

Determined to change the narrative around how disability is seen, she founded Langley Pos-Abilities Society 12 years ago with a focus to “celebrate the abilities of people living with disabilities,” she said.

RELATED: Langley non-profit celebrates 10 years of Pos-Abilities

She initially started with a ‘personal assistance devices program,’ through which her small team collected used equipment, which were later given to those in need after minor fixes.

Two years into her new venture, she started an annual event called Day of Pos-Abilities, which is entering its eighth year in 2022 after a two-year COVID hiatus.

Bringing in the spotlight on the talent of those with mobility issues, the event includes artists, musicians, Paralympians, and more. The event will take place on Saturday, Aug. 20 at Douglas Park.

“What we are trying to do is promote inclusion,” said Ettenberg, founder and executive director of the society.

Ettenberg said that inclusion is still lacking in society, and it is disappointing, especially when she sees people using parking spaces intended for those with mobility challenges or when she visits a hotel that is not wheelchair accessible.

Focusing on the theme of inclusion, the society will offer activities like the try on a disability (TOAD) challenge and a seminar by the fire chief on ‘how to prepare for disasters.’ There will also be a friendly competition between the fire and police personnel, tackling an obstacle course together.

“People living with disability have to think about a lot of things before leaving the house. So if enough help is not available how are they [people with disabilities] going to survive,” Ettenberg commented.

She added that the goal is to educate people about inclusion and disability issues through the event.

READ MORE: COVID-19 has slowed Langley Pos-Abilities Society’s donation rate, organizers say

The seminar starts at 1 p.m., but there will be various entertainment activities throughout the day, beginning at 11 a.m. Artisan crafts, a choir, mouth-watering food, a talent show, and kids’ zone are some of them, Ettenberg shared.

With more than 700 people attending this event each year, Ettenberg is hoping to have a successful eighth year. The society is also running a 50/50 draw on the same day to raise funds for its work.

For more information and to learn about the services offered by Langley Pos-Abilities Society, people can visit the website at pos-abilities.org.

Douglas Park is located at 5409 206th St.

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Is there more to the story? Email: news@langleyadvancetimes.com
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Last year, Langley Pos-Abilities petitioned for better wheelchair access at the Brookswood Plaza shopping centre, where the sidewalks have multiple steps, and anyone using a wheelchair had to traverse the parking lot. (Langley Advance Times files)
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Langley City Mayor Val van den Broek with Zosia Ettenberg learned about accessability issues at the Timms Community Centre. (Langley Advance Times files)
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Langley City council members and senior staff took part in the Langley Pos-Abilities Society Try on a Disability program, competing against the Township in 2019. (Langley Advance Times files)


Tanmay Ahluwalia

About the Author: Tanmay Ahluwalia

Tanmay Ahluwalia is a journalist with a digital mindset and a proud alumnus of the University of Delhi.
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