A person with a disability is all too often categorised by society as either being an inspiration or a victim of circumstances. In both cases, they’re considered to be different.
What society fails to comprehend is that those who live with a disability are just like anyone else, and that’s why the Commission for the Rights of Persons with Disability (CRPD) has launched its latest campaign to break those barriers and provide an accurate representation of people with disability in the public sphere.
With over 19,000 people with disabilities registered with CRPD, the organisation is ready to shed some much-needed light on the topic.
‘Different is Normal’ is a series of 12 captivating activity photos by Darrin Zammit Lupi portraying people with various impairments engaged in a range of activities from swimming to cooking, and it couldn’t deliver a more powerful message.
Here are some of the stories behind the photos…
1. Julian Bajada
A lawyer and para-athlete, Julian Bajada was born with multiple congenital physical impairments to both his lower limbs, and a missing right arm. After years of hard work, he represented Malta at the Para Swimming World Championships in Glasgow. Now, he balances life as a lawyer and as Secretary-General of the Malta Paralympic Committee.
2. Maja Theuma
Maja Theuma is a 19-year-old with short stature who’s a Paralympic Swimmer specialising in Freestyle and Backstroke. Since taking up the sport, Maja has taken part in various competitions including the Para Swimming World Series in Italy and the World Championships in London.
This year might be her biggest year yet. Maja will once again be competing in the World Series in Lignana where she’s determined to qualify for Tokyo 2020.
3. Noel Aquilina
Being an amputee with spina bifida doesn’t stop Noel Aquilina from coaching youths in basketball and football. Noel is also one of the founders of the Malta Wheelchair Basketball Association, which has played four games against foreign teams, winning all four.
4. Christine Mifsud
Christine Mifsud lost her eyesight 20 years ago while pregnant with her two daughters. Since then, she has gone on to become a Disability Equality Trainer with CRPD and an active member in her community. Her life has been dedicated to helping others and is surrounded by family and friends – as well as two dogs – that love her for who she is.
The photos don’t seem like anything out of the ordinary, which is what makes them so effective in portraying the overall message of the campaign.
“We did not want to portray these people as anything other than themselves. We did not want them to be ‘inspirational’ or ‘victims of society’; they are persons who have a disability. That is why the campaign focuses on everyday life and activities that they enjoy doing. That is also why it is called ‘Different is Normal’,” said CRPD.
Separately the photos tell a story of some spectacular individuals who have embraced life to the fullest. Together, these photos represent the passions and aspirations of individuals whose achievements are outstanding regardless of what impairment they might have.