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Hong Kong Disneyland marks International Day of Persons with Disabilities with celebrations

Hong Kong Disneyland marks International Day of Persons with Disabilities with celebrations
December 5, 2021

Hong Kong Disneyland Resort (HKDL) marked the 29th anniversary of International Day of Persons with Disabilities (3rd December) with a celebratory event today, together with key community partners who are devoted to promoting disability inclusion and improving lives of the people with different abilities. The highlight of the day was a first-of-its-kind processional and inclusive dance performance in the park, which showcased how inclusion can lead to boundless possibilities.

Tim Sypko, Senior Vice President, Operations, Hong Kong Disneyland Resort notes “the world of Disney is renowned for its all-embracing entertainment and boundless offerings. Our very own Castle of Magical Dreams is an amazing example of that, representing the diversity and inclusion that we are continuously striving to harness and grow. This includes nurturing a culture that is welcoming to people of all abilities, and making sure our accessibility features are even more visible.

“With that in mind, we’re continuing to join hands with our valued community partners on this journey of inclusion awareness. As the world evolves for the better, we want to evolve alongside it. This vision is also being cultivated among our cast members, to ensure that all people feel welcome and appreciated no matter their background, life experiences and perspectives.”

Joining the event as guests of honour were Henry Lai, Assistant Commissioner for Tourism and Benny Cheung, Chairman of the Hong Kong Joint Council for People with Disabilities. Also present were Ida Lam, Chairperson of Arts with the Disabled Association Hong Kong; Walter Tsui, Chief Executive of CareER and Evina Wong, Vice Chairperson of the Hong Kong Federation of Handicapped Youth and Chairperson of Hong Kong Wheelchair Dance Sport Association. They all shared HKDL’s vision of building a more inclusive, accessible and sustainable community.

Benny Cheung advised “December 3 is the International Day of Persons with Disabilities every year. Our organisation and different parties commit to advocating the spirit of disabilities inclusion. This is a day to signify all our ongoing efforts in making sure everyone’s rights and needs are respected and met, irrespective of their ability or background.

“Thank you to Hong Kong Disneyland Resort for arranging a moment for us to celebrate this and for their continued efforts in the inclusion space, together with all of today’s participants.”

First-of-its-kind processional and inclusive dance performance
Following the ceremony was a first-of-its-kind processional for people of all abilities along Main Street, U.S.A. Highlighting how HKDL provides a platform to bring world-class performing arts opportunities for everyone, the performance featured an inclusive dance performance – ‘Wondrous Dance for ALL’ – alongside with Disney VoluntEARS and various NGO dance groups taking part.

HKDL’s Entertainment and Costuming team worked together with the Arts with the Disabled Association Hong Kong and the Hong Kong Wheelchair Dance Sport Association to jointly create the dance performance for this occasion.

Taking part in the performance was Christine Lau, a performer with Down’s syndrome from the Arts with the Disabled Association Hong Kong who specialises in various dances including ballet, modern, jazz and traditional Chinese dance.

“It’s very touching to be joining this event at Hong Kong Disneyland together with so many people with different abilities,” said Lau. “It’s a reminder to us all that we can all take part in enjoying magical moments together as long as the platform is there for us to do so. I’m proud to see so many people enjoying themselves here today!”

Inclusive spirit shines during ‘Community’s Got Talent’ this Christmas
Since 2017, Hong Kong Disneyland Resort has invited around 15 schools and NGOs to perform in the park during the Christmas period with a focus on extending the spirit of inclusion to various corners of the community. To date, there have been 60 ‘Community’s Got Talent’ performances with nearly 1,800 participants, all featuring people of diverse backgrounds, including young cancer patients, students with visual disabilities, speech impairments or special educational needs, as well as underprivileged students and senior citizens.

This year will be the first time that Disney VoluntEARS will have the opportunity to perform with some NGOs in the ‘Community’s Got Talent’ program, joining hands to spread the happiness to park guests during Christmas.

Ongoing accessibility and inclusion efforts at HKDL
While International Day of Persons with Disabilities is only once a year, HKDL has a strong, year-round focus on inclusion. Over the past year, the resort has hosted a series of bespoke workshops for cast members with an aim to strengthen their awareness of mental and physical disabled person’s needs. With over 150 training hours between them, each of these cast members will be appointed as barrier-free ambassadors at the resort, bringing their learnings into their daily work to enhance experiences and communications for guests with disabilities.

Additionally, Hong Kong Disneyland Resort’s Community Involvement Program will return in the coming year. Together with registered NGOs and charities, the program is designed to bring joy and magical experiences to those in need across Hong Kong through park ticket donations. Over 10,000 park tickets will be offered to NGOs supporting people with disabilities.

Diversity and inclusion has always sat at the heart of HKDL’s philosophy. In 2021, the resort implemented its new ‘Inclusion Key’ as part of Disney’s ‘Five Keys’ – joining ‘Safety’, ‘Courtesy’, ‘Show’ and ‘Efficiency’ as its core values. The addition of ‘Inclusion’ emphasises the commitment to creating a culture where everyone is welcome and where ideas from the resort’s diverse workforce can help it grow.

All images courtesy Hong Kong Disneyland Resort

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