THEY were one of the most colourful floats at the 2013 Vodafone Hibiscus float procession with giant hibiscus flowers made from fabric and children in the middle.
Displaying banners such as "Disability is not Inability", "Include us don't exclude us", and "My biggest disability is your attitude". The float was the largest representation of people with disabilities ever seen at a national level program like the Hibiscus Festival.
"As many celebrate the Hibiscus season, we at the Hilton Organisation took this opportunity to advocate on the positive portrayal of people with disabilities and the inclusion of people with disabilities in to mainstream society," Hilton Organisation CEO Sureni Perera said.
More than 200 people with disabilities, staff, students, volunteers and Frank Hilton, the father of special education in Fiji and the president of the Hilton Organisation, joined the march. The float was designed by Neil Foon, who, together with a group of staff and volunteers built it in four days.
Children displayed as flowers symbolised the positive representation of people with disabilities.
"In an age where the world is moving towards an inclusive and barrier-free society for people with disabilities, we need to create as much awareness as possible in order to change the mind-set and attitudes of society.
"We need to dispel the many myths associated to disability, we need to emphasise that people with disabilities are not objects of shame or pity, we need to educate people and disseminate knowledge. Often, attitude poses the biggest threat to inclusion and the Hilton Organisation is focused on creating a change in order to make way for a smooth and complete transition to a disability-inclusive and barrier-free society."