Recent milestones in Saudi Arabia for disabled youth, and how those milestones have the potential to make the world a better place.
Progress has long been measured by the hands of a clock.
Some might say that one’s actions can shape the future. That person’s actions could become the building blocks for a better world for those around them—or turn a pessimist into an optimist.
If we are to truly understand the power of progression, however, we must first move those hands of that proverbial clock in a certain direction. If we move them slowly and carefully, we can see every step we take. If we move those hands too quickly, we might miss a step.
This notion mirrors Webster’s Dictionary’s definition of progress—
“A journey of state. A circuit, especially one made by a sovereign through parts of his own dominions.”
In fact, the very concept of progression is woven into the fabric of society—and it’s on its way to making a global impact. Perhaps no other example of this is more evident or relevant than that of the recent celebration of disabled youth in The Middle East.
According to this September 22 article from Arab News, Saudi Arabia and surrounding areas marked the first-ever event that recognizes and celebrates disabled kids. The celebration—supported by The Disabled Children’s Association, among many local contributors—hosted more than 200 disabled children and their families for a day full of activities. The event was part of National Day Celebrations, an annual day of celebration throughout Middle Eastern areas.
When asked about the significance of this milestone, Zuhair A. Maimini, director of the King Abdulaziz Center, said the disabled youth plays an important role in The Middle East’s overall population, as well as in global society—and that
“it’s time to show the world [our] unity and love for our country.”
Maimini also noted that this event helped children learn about the culture and lifestyle of Saudi Arabia. In turn, it allowed the sponsors and supporters to raise awareness about the importance of education, justice and security—and how those things are crucial for the safety, prosperity and stability of the country they call home.
I think the idea of unity is worth mentioning, because it speaks to the one thing disabled individuals in The Middle East—and in every other part of the world—are fighting for—equal rights. Salwa Ali Al Mahmadi, assistant director of the King Abdulaziz Center, highlighted this in a comment regarding the organization’s hopes for the event:
“We want to show how we take care of our children, and [show] that even children with special needs have to know about the history and importance of their country. Our goal is to draw the attention of the [Middle Eastern] society to the disabled children and help them feel part of the community.”
From a journalist’s perspective, this is a significant piece of global news in its purest form. It’s something that needs to be (and rightfully should be) celebrated—not only for the sheer milestone that it is, but also for the scope of where and why it took place.
You’ve got what many would consider one of the most violent, hostile places in the world celebrating a demographic of people—children—who most likely don’t have an identity in their own country, let alone a voice. They’ve been victims of that hostility for far too long, all because they have a disability.
As someone who believes in equality, however, there has to be a part of you that’s smiling inside. This celebration of diversity has been a long time coming. To read news like this is a prime example of progression at work. It’s a hopeful step towards globalization—and above all else—it’s a complete turn from this story about the denial of equal rights in India.
As a disabled individual who does believe in equality, the news of Saudi Arabia doing something meaningful for a group that I fit into all too well is refreshing. I’m hopeful that this is the beginning of a revolution of sorts for the disabled community around the world. Not only that, but I’m also grateful that people are starting to “see the light”, so to speak as it relates to disabilities.
The people and countries that are taking notice are some of the most powerful in the world. With that kind of power and influence, I don’t think it’s unreasonable to say globalization is closer to becoming a reality than we think. In fact, it becomes abundantly clear day in and day out that reality is here and now.
If progression is indeed “a journey of state”, one has to be willing to take risks and go on that journey. It’s the only way to truly understand what change feels like—and if you’re not willing to take those steps, you’ll eventually look back and ask yourself,
“Why didn’t I try to do my part to make the world a better place?”