DUBAI, 3 December 2021 – Inclusivity, accessibility and collaboration are vital for humanity to tackle global challenges, Lucy Hawking, children’s author, journalist, and daughter of renowned British physicist Stephen Hawking said on Friday.
Speaking on International Day of Persons with Disabilities, Hawking, whose father had motor neurone disease, said the day “gives us a moment to talk about the very globally-significant issues that face people with disabilities, and to discuss them in lots of different areas, putting the focus on 1.3 billion people worldwide.
“Hearing the discussions around persons with disabilities, and understanding the depth of inspiration my father gave to so many people across the world, has really given me a moment to reflect on how important his example was. He did battle against a very serious neurodegenerative condition for most of his life, but he never let it stop him. In fact, both my parents faced situations when there was no disabled access. There was no acceptance that disabled people should be independent, should be autonomous, could be self-supporting, and beyond that could make a contribution to the world.”
Hawking ran a space science and storytelling workshop with UAE students from the Manzil Centre for People with Disabilities as part of a special programme of events at the UK Pavilion, which included a panel session, a student book-reading, and a discussion aimed at ‘Redefining Accessibility’.
She also contributed the word ‘unity’ to the UK Pavilion’s AI algorithm, which uses donated words from visitors to construct a message to the stars, displayed on the outside of the pavilion – and was inspired by one of her father’s final projects.
She said: “What astronauts see when they go into space, and they look at the Earth, is this one planet where we all live. So it’s one planet, one human race, and the challenges we face are global now. So my message would be about unity, and the need for collaboration within for us to work together, to cooperate, and to stop dividing ourselves into ever smaller parts.”
Both Hawking and her father were passionate about making science attractive to children, she said.
“What we tried to do was to make science very inclusive at an early level, to encourage and inspire all kids to think that science was about them, and that it wasn’t something frightening or difficult.
“My father was really good at getting people to care about science. He had such a great way of phrasing things. He was very funny, he was very clear, and he could present things in a very relatable way. So I realised this was an approach we could use with kids for explaining things in an entertaining, unpatronising, accurate way, and put it into a storytelling context.”
Lucy and Stephen Hawking wrote several books together on science for young readers, including George’s Secret Key – an adventure that reveals fascinating information about our universe, including black holes as George is taken through the vastness of space by a scientist, his daughter, and their super-computer named Cosmos.
16 total views, 2 views today