Tag Archives: Czech Republic

Turning Three!

In its third year, The PWD Forum has continued advocating for the integration of special education to the basic and secondary curriculum of the schools in the Philippines.

It has done so by reporting about how “PWD-friendly” some countries are by discussing the legislations each has in governing its citizens with disabilities (Israel, Netherlands, Czech Republic, Bahamas).

It has also shared the stories of the persons with disabilities from the said countries who didn’t let their disabilities stop them (Mohamed Dalo, Jiří Ježek, Martin Kovář, Běla Hlaváčková, Petra KurkováTownsely Roberts, Gary Russell).

The PWD Forum has enumerated the organizations present in the same countries and described how each has been doing what they can for the PWDs in their midst1 2 3 4. It has listed the disabilities recognized in the world today; discussed which of these is common in Netherlands, Czech Republic, and Bahamas; and introduced a first-of-its-kind summit that happened last February 22-24, 2017.

The PWD Forum still believes in integrating special education to the basic and secondary curriculum of the schools in the Philippines. It would help the country’s economy if almost all of its citizens are skilled and qualified to meet the labor demands of globalization. And since its population is ageing, everyone is very much needed on the labor market. PWDs should then be given chances to contribute to its welfare.

“We have a responsibility to ensure that every individual has the opportunity to receive a high-quality education, from prekindergarten to elementary and secondary, to special education, to technical and higher education and beyond.” ~ Jim Jeffords

Video taken from the YouTube Channel of Lei Pico

1Those in Israel: https://thepwdforum.wordpress.com/2016/09/16/help-in-israel/

2Those in Netherlands: https://thepwdforum.wordpress.com/2016/10/28/help-in-netherlands/

3Those in Czech Republic: https://thepwdforum.wordpress.com/2017/01/13/help-in-czech-republic/

4Those in Bahamas: https://thepwdforum.wordpress.com/2017/04/07/help-in-bahamas/

5http://www.tribune242.com/news/2015/dec/02/why-its-so-important-end-disability-discrimination/

HIV, CF, CMT, and HD in CR

The presence of organizations in the Czech Republic that cares for its citizens with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), cystic fibrosis (CF), Charcot-Marie-Tooth (CMT), and Huntington’s Disease (HD) could only mean that the mentioned diseases are prevalent there and, therefore, should be controlled.

The human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is a virus that attacks the immune system. Without it, our bodies would have trouble fighting off diseases. It could lead to dementia, anxiety and depression, and seizure, among others.

As such, the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation donated $140 million dollars to search for its cure. It would be similar to a pump in the form of an implant.

Cystic fibrosis (CF) is an inherited disorder that can damage the cells in the body that produce mucus, sweat and digestive juices. It can affect the respiratory system, gastrointestinal system, musculoskeletal system, genitourinary system, and the reproductive system. The disease is caused by a defect in a single gene, which scientists refer to as CFTR.

Recently, though, researchers at the Case Western Reserve University have found a way to replace the gene that causes CF with a new imaging technique.

It is called the tri-modal imaging device that consists of an x-ray, the first modality that can tell about the structure; and the gamma emission and the optical, the other two modalities that can both give information function.

Charcot-Marie-Tooth (CMT) is caused by mutations in genes that produce proteins involved in the structure and function of either the peripheral nerve axon or the myelin sheath. Once it degenerates, the motor nerves could result in muscle weakness and atrophy in the extremities (arms, legs, hands, or feet) while the sensory nerves could bring about a reduced ability to feel heat, cold, and pain.

Last October 24, 2016, though, scientists at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis and Stanford University reported that they have designed small compounds with a potential to correct the mitochondrial dysfunction in CMT. “This mitochondrial protein has never been targeted before,” the senior author Gerald W. Dorn II, MD, the Philip and Sima K. Needleman Professor of Medicine was quoted saying in a report.

A progressive brain disorder, Huntington’s Disease causes uncontrolled movements, emotional problems, and loss of thinking ability (cognition). It usually happens in a person’s thirties or forties (adult-onset Huntington disease) or during childhood or adolescence (juvenile Huntington’s disease) and affects an individual’s walking, speaking, and swallowing.

Fortunately, an electric wheelchair was invented by Dr. Yodchanan Wongsawat from the Center for Biomedical and Robotics Technology Faculty of Engineering at Mahidol University in Thailand. It has an automated navigation system that can adapt on whether the hands of the user are still functional. If it is, a patient could use their hands. If it is not, the modes can be operated by one’s chin or eye.

The wheelchair can also detect obstacles on the floor with its Rotating Laser Scanner, map location with its Laser Scanner, describe commands with its 7’’ LCD screen, and acquire data with its Mini-PC.

Another device, the Eye Gaze System, can generate speech by simply looking at control keys or cells displayed on a screen. It could empower people with Huntington’s disease—particularly those in later stage—since they usually have poor muscle coordination, mental decline, and behavioral symptoms.

“Congress acknowledged that society’s accumulated myths and fears about disability and disease are as handicapping as the physical limitations that flow from actual impairment.” ~William J. Brennan, Jr.

Video taken from the YouTube Channel of the AP Archive

Help in Czech Republic

Established in 2000, the Czech National Disability Council (CNDC) has aimed to advocate, promote and meet the rights, interests, and needs of disabled people in the country, regardless of the type or extent of their impairment. It has collaborated with the state administration and local government at all levels as well as with organizations and institutions working in this field at both the national and regional level.

It is the advisory body of the Governmental Board for People with Disabilities. It is a member of the governing board of the national development programme Mobility for All. It is a member as well of the joint committee for the Programme of Development and Renovation of Public Transport Vehicles, and the two Boards of the Association of Cities and Municipalities.

Aside from those, the CNDC collaborates actively, too, with the Association of Regions of the Czech Republic, the Association of Employers of Disabled People in Czech Republic, and the Trade Union of Employees in Health and Social Service in the Czech Republic.

Comprising it are member organizations, among of which is the ARCUS Cancer Centre that was founded in 1993. It has helped cancer patients and their families since then under the chairmanship of John Koželská, winner of the Olga Havel signatory of the Paris Charter against Cancer.

There are also organizations specifically designed to cater Czechs with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), cystic fibrosis, Charcot-Marie-Tooth, Huntington Disease, chronic diseases, and deafness.

The Czech AIDS Help Society was established in 1989 as a self-support initiative of PLWHIV [people living with HIV]. Through finances from grants, donations, and fees in its own activities, the Czech AIDS Help Society continues to promote HIV prevention and awareness through anonymous and free-of-charge HIV testing; shelter accommodation services to PLWHIV in its own social center, the Dum Svetla (Lighthouse); on-site HIV/AIDS counseling service in Prague and Ostrava; a national toll-free HIV/AIDS hotline; legal assistance to PLWHIV that were discriminated against; and anti-stigmatization campaigns.

The Czech Cystic Fibrosis Organization was founded in 1992 by the parents of the children who has it. Originally, it was called the Club of Parents and Friends of Children Cystic Fibrosis. The parents pass on practical experiences to each other; in early days, the club voluntarily works for several mothers of sick children. It still involved in “active” parents till this day to handle the provision of the patients, and, together with the staff, promote cooperation among the center; inform the public about cystic fibrosis; protect the legitimate interests of the patients; secure funding for the activities of the club; subsidize the necessary equipment;  and support families of CF patients with low incomes financially.

Society CMT, on the other hand, is an association founded in June 1999. Its objective is to defend, promote, and fulfill the interests and needs of those sickened with Charcot – Marie – Tooth, a neurological disorder that affect the nerves outside the brain and spinal cord, in coordination with state and local governments.

Widowed by the American folk singer Woody Guthrie who suffered from Huntington’s Disease, Marjorie founded an association for those with the rare inherited disease as well. It—the Czech Huntington Association—started to set up a self-help organization in May 14, 1991 to “map” the cause of an illness in Bohemia and Moravia characterized by progressive dementia, abnormal posture, and involuntary movements.

To prevent the “diseases of civilization” (e.g. cardiovascular disease, diabetes, asthma, allergy, oncological diseases, epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, severe renal and metabolic diseases, osteoporosis, vertebral diseases, etc.), the Union of Persons Affected by Chronic Diseases in the CR spread its network of 330 organizations in 290 towns and villages in the Czech Republic with its 55,000 members.

Those with hearing impairment, meanwhile, can go to the Czech-Moravian Unity of the Deaf. It was founded in Brno in 1998 and operates in Olomouc, Breclav, Jihlava, Pilsen, and Prague, aside from there. Its aim: unite the other associations for the hearing-impaired in the region to “effectively promote their mutual cooperation.”

This is not to say that Czechs with mental disability are neglected in the country. They are, in fact, encourage to “expand their opportunities in various fields of life” by the Society for Integration of Mentally Disabled Persons (DUHA); “live independently” by the Inclusion Czech Republic; and “take responsibility for their decisions” by the Pohoda (Comfort).

The Association for Complex Care of People with Cerebral Palsy would inform the public everything that has to be learned about the disease. The DEMKA Club would work with the families of PWDs in reacquainting themselves with the rest of the society.

The Czech Paraplegics Association (CZEPA) would protect the rights and interests of people afflicted with spinal cord injury (SCI). The Union for Rehabilitation of Persons with Cerebral Vascular Accidents would look after Czechs sickened with stroke.

Other organizations for PWDs in the country are the Association of Physically Handicapped in the Czech Republic, Association of  Persons with Disabilities and Their Friends, Helping Hand, Home For Me, Assistence O.P.S., Association of Parents and Friends of Handicapped children in the Czech Republic, and Czech Abilympijská Association.

“The only disability in life is a bad attitude.” ~ Scott Hamilton

Video taken from the YouTube Channel of Flux Us

Czech athletes

Able to put the Czech Republic in the sports’ map are four of its citizens with disabilities.

Jiří Ježek has lost his right leg in a car accident nine years before he turned to competitive cycling as a hobby. Since then, he has bagged gold medals after another—in the 2000 Sydney Paralympic Games, in the 2004 Athens Paralympic Games, in the 2008 Beijing Paralympic Games, and in the 2012 London Paralympic Games. He has competed against non-disabled riders—the most notable of which was during the Král Šumavy, a 250-kilometer track1—and has claimed the UCI Paralympic World Champion in 2006, 2007, 2009, 2010, and 2011.

Motivated by Joseph Lachman2, Jiří Ježek has written the book “Frajer” (“Ace”) in 2008 “to give hope not only to the similarly disabled people on the grounds of his life story.” He has founded the Czech hockey team of the disabled, supported the AMSA Czech HendiGolf, and backed other charities that help disadvantaged children and promote healthy-living.

Martin Kovář is a swimmer impaired because of a spinal cord injury. He has brought home three gold medals during the 2004 Athens Paralympic Games and created three world records. He used to be the adviser of former Prime Minister Vladimír Špidla, and with this experience, Martin Kovář has engaged himself actively in the Paralympic movement.

Běla Hlaváčková is another Czech Paralympic swimmer. But she is not just any other swimmer. She is the winner of five gold medals in the 50m freestyle during the 2004 Athens Paralympic Games and the 2008 Beijing Paralympic Games.

Petra Kurková is the best deaf sportswoman in the world. She has won a gold medal for the supercombination at the Deaflympics in Salt Lake City in 2007; brought home two golds, one silver and one bronze medals from Swedish Sundsvall; and won four gold medals at the Olympic Games in Davos in 1999.

“Somebody will always try to find some shortcut to victory. But I believe that those cheaters are not happy inside, they must live with the lie.” ~ Jiří Ježek

1Jiří Ježek won second place then—within just a second between him and the winner!

2Impaired, Joseph Lachman was the silver medalist during the 1988 Seoul Paralympic Games.

Video taken from the YouTube Channel of Akis Van Doorn

Poland

Eight years from now, the country bordered by Germany, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Ukraine, Belarus, Lithuania, and Russia will be hosting an “event that redefines handball” with the nation of Sweden.

Will the persons with disabilities (PWDs) in Poland be able to participate? How are they being treated there?

Only after the 1978 Census was the Medical Board for Disability and Employment able to legally classify the number of PWDs in Poland. It was totaled to 2, 485, 0011 or 7.1% of the entire population.

Last 2009,  the Association of Friends of Integration together with the Administrative Office of the country organized a competition to find out which building “are best suited” for PWDs. Those that won were the Opera House in Wroclaw, the Town Hall in Dabrowa Gornicza, the Public Library in Koszalin, the Sport and Exhibition Hall in Gdynia, and the Cable Car to Kasprowy Wierch in Zakopane.

Then last May 9, 2013, the International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health (ICF) launched a “crucial component” that would (1) ensure that PWDs are able to participate fully and effectively in society on an equal basis with others and (2) address and assess the needs of PWDs better.

A bill was filed in its Senate last April 18, 2014 “to boost welfare benefits for parents who leave their jobs to care for their disabled children.” The latter will receive $431 by 2016.

Social security in Poland includes insurances in retirement, disability, sickness, and accident. All employees in the country are covered by the compulsory pension and disability pension insurance. They may continue the insurance on a voluntary basis after it expires but not if they already have a title to another form of insurance.

Its surroundings are “user-friendly” to PWDs. Entrances to its establishments are stairless. Doorframes were regulated to be at least 80 cm wide so that a wheelchair can be taken inside a room. All sounds and alarms must be audible, all stairs must be rough, and all doors and signs must be lettered or numbered.

Tourism For All is a website that lists these attractions to PWDs based on the type of restrictions such as wheelchairs, prosthesis, or crutches. Another website does the same thing for the PWDs of the Kaszubian District.

Poland also has activation workshops, physical rehabilitation centres offering spa treatments, forms of active and passive recreation, and group bonding events. The gyms, fitness clubs, swimming pools, and water parks here offer discounts and special assistance. The Polish Association of Disability in Sports has the program “Start,” which aims to organize and develop the common physical culture, sport, the rehabilitation of movement, tourism and recreation for PWDs.

A travel agency in Krakow would organize excursions for PWDs to Europe. Wooden platforms have been laid in the beaches in Wladyslawowo, Cetniewo, Ustka, Sopot and Mielno. In Swinoujscie, Dziwnow, and Pobierowo, the descents to the beach are gentle so that PWDs can still move around.  In Rewa there is a pier for wheelchair users and Gdynia has a playground that includes a sandpit with raised edges and a swing in the form of a basket.

Poland signed and ratified the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in 2012. About 3.8% of the Polish population can work there now.

“Funds for social benefits, especially for the young generation, need to stop being considered a wasted expenditure. This is smart money. If we can improve someone’s health condition, providing for him in the future will be much less expensive. Moreover, if we can educate these children and help them become independent, we will have a good citizen and taxpayer in the future.” ~ Broda-Wysocki

1 Based on The Polish National Census in 1978.

Video taken from the YouTube Channel of polcham

Shaun Webster: the believer

Persons with disabilities (PWDs) are neither scroungers nor superheroes, a 43-year-old man in Rotherham, South Yorkshire maintains.

His name is Shaun Webster, the international project worker of Change, a human rights organization led by PWDs. He has visited the Czech Republic, Bulgaria, and Moldova to train health- and social care professionals on ‘de-institutionalisation’, community living, and community-based care.

With a learning disability himself, Webster has called for the closure of long-stay institutions for young people with learning disabilities through Lumos, a children’s charity founded by JK Rowling.

“They’re doing it faster in Europe, building small group homes and getting people into the community, here they’re dragging their feet, still putting money into care homes. Other countries are less scared, ready to work with people with learning disabilities,” Webster was quoted in a report.

Webster also believes that PWDs, which number about to 1.4 in the United Kingdom, should be more visible in communities ‘to challenge the status quo’. Politicians must be engaged, and a political party of PWDs ‘might be an idea to get our voice across to government because we’re the experts in real life.’

To date, Webster would champion ‘the fact that people with learning disabilities can, should, and do have the same “real life” as everyone else, with a job, home and family life’. He had three children with his childhood sweetheart before they separated. He is now a grandfather of two toddlers and lives in a community-based supported housing.

“It’s starting,” he says, “but we need to make it louder … people want to have proper jobs, to live in the community and not be vulnerable or patronised.” ~ Shaun Webster

Video posted with permission from lumoscharity