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PIA Press Release

Opol receives IAUD 2010 Award

Cagayan de Oro City (11 November) -- The municipality of Opol in Misamis Oriental, together with New Lucena in Iloilo, received the prestigious Grand Award of the International Association for Universal Design Award 2010 as being part of the Non-Handicapping Environment Project of Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) in partnership with the National Council on Disability Affairs (NCDA).

The project was recognized for its outstanding achievement and contribution to the development, delivery and dissemination of Universal Design.

Mayor Dexter B. Yasay received the award during the 3rd International Conference for Universal Design on November 1, 2010 in Hamamatsu, Shizuoka Prefecture, Japan.

The Grand Award was awarded to the most outstanding among the winners of the Excellence Award which were also the result of a rigorous evaluation process of large number of applications coming from both public and private individuals and organizations from all over the world.

The IAUD Award are given to individuals and organizations for their outstanding achievements and contributions towards the realization of a Universal Design society in which many people can enjoy a meaningful and comfortable life free from inconveniences due to differences in ethnic or cultural origin, customs, nationality, sex, age or capacity.

The Non-Handicapping Environment Project which started in October 2008 and will end on September 12, 2012 aims to improve physical and social accessibility through the construction and renovation of public establishments and empowerment of PWDs. Creating physical barrier-free environments is based on the concept of "Universal Design."

Opol, as one of the pioneering municipalities of the project, is determined to create a physically barrier-free municipality. The Local Government of Opol has started rehabilitating public facilities to be accessible to PWDs. In fact, the Municipal Hall has already a ramp with handrail and an accessible toilet.

In the area of social awareness, intensive IEC campaigns have been conducted. It has a weekly radio program on NHE/CBR hosted by a PWD. News and information on NHE/CBR are regularly featured in the weekly newsletter. For a and assemblies are also regularly conducted.

The PWD Focal Person provides technical assistance every DAP Association meetings and conducts regular visit to DAP members.

With the kind of support from the LGU, the PWDs are now actively participating in local activities as well as in local development. Executive Order 2009-18 included PWD in the Local Development Council.

"NHE Project activities such as Disability Equality Training, Peer Counseling and Leadership and Advocacy Training helped me recognize and understand my disability," Mary Jane Villanueva, President of the Association of Differently-abled Persons in Opol, said.

"As I gain more self-esteem, I hope that other members will also be more empowered and confident to overcome all the difficulties being faced by the PWDs. Make our community accessible to all,'' she added.

This is also the aspiration of Mayor Dexter B. Yasay.

"The implementation of the project in Opol is in infant stage unlike in cities and municipalities in developed countries which are on the verge of a physically accessible community. To become physically and socially barrier-free community needs budgetary requirement but on our own little way through the help of JICA, the private sector and the PWDs themselves, the creation of a non-handicapping environment is not far to achieve," he said. (Opol Information Office) [top]

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