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“Canadian efforts help raise awareness”
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“Canadian efforts help raise awareness”

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Dilshan Jayasinghe picRaising awareness of the needs of others is an important first step in equality. Dilshan Jayasinghe, 19, a Commonwealth Correspondent from Mississauga, Canada, describes programs that help those in Canada and in a fellow Commonwealth country.

2017 is the year that Canada celebrates its 150th Birthday celebrations. 2017 is also a year that University of Guelph-Humber, located in Toronto, will celebrate World Autism Awareness Day.

This special day was started by the United Nations on April 2nd, 2007, making the year 2017  World Autism Awareness Day’s 10th year of celebration. To celebrate, the university is participating in the World Autism Awareness Day: Raise The Flag Campaign by Autism Ontario.

As a second year Business student, I brought this special event to the University in 2016. We are collaborating with the Guelph-Humber Advertising and Marketing Association (GHAMA) for 2017 to celebrate its  tenth year.

Celebrating World Autism Awareness Day will not only to bring awareness of autism to the university level, but it will also show support and appreciation towards students with autism. This, in turn, will facilitate students with autism or students with other disabilities to feel supported when they reach the post-secondary level of education, either at university or college. It is hoped that this support will enable these students to work toward completion of a successful post-secondary education and career progression thereafter.

As noted, 2017 is Canada’s 150th birthday year. Working along with my dad, who is a life member of the Royal Commonwealth Society in Toronto and Sri Lanka, he and I enabled and facilitated a small fundraiser to help Mencafep in Sri Lanka.

Mencafep was founded by Dr. Chris Stubbs from the UK to help persons with disabilities in Sri Lanka. His Royal Highness Prince Charles visited Mencafep during the Commonwealth Heads of Government (CHOGM) meeting in 2013. Proceeds from the fundraiser sponsored by the Royal Commonwealth Society, Toronto Branch, were handed over to Dr. Stubbs of Mencafep by the Royal Commonwealth Society, Sri Lanka Branch, at the Canadian High Commission in Sri Lanka.

This is a poignant example in which persons from sister Commonwealth countries help the citizenry, in this case persons with disabilities. Canada has made significant strides in its efforts to enable persons with disabilities to lead meaningful lives. Of course, there is much progress that needs to be done, but Canada can take heart in that it has the capacity and gumption not only to make the lives of all its citizens better, but also to lend a hand towards another sister Commonwealth country, Sri Lanka. A more precise context in this case is a partnership amongst three Commonwealth countries: Canada, UK and Sri Lanka. The photo shows the Royal Commonwealth Society, Sri Lanka Branch, presenting the funds to Dr. Stubbs at the Canadian High Commission in Sri Lanka.

Photo: courtesy of Dilshan Jayasinghe

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About me: I live in Mississauga, Ontario, Canada. This fall I started my studies at the University of Guelph, Humber in Toronto, Canada with the aim of being an accountant as my career.

I am the Program Officer of the International Youth Council, Mississauga Chapter. During my spare time I am very involved in community activities, be it local or global.

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Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the Commonwealth Youth Programme. Articles are published in a spirit of dialogue, respect and understanding. If you disagree, why not submit a response?
To learn more about becoming a Commonwealth Correspondent please visit: http://www.yourcommonwealth.org/submit-articles/
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