A platform for and by people with disabilities

9 June 2022

The most inclusive city is the happiest city”

As chairman of the Arnhem platform for the chronically ill and disabled (APCG), Marjolein van den Broek is committed to helping fellow residents of the municipality of Arnhem who, like her, have a disability or chronic illness. With her foundation, she is committed to the full participation of people with a physical, sensory and/or (slight) intellectual disability, people with a chronic illness or people with a psychological vulnerability. The fact that she herself is blind and mother of two children certainly does not stop her. She is happy to explain how she and her colleagues want to achieve this full participation within Arnhem.

How did you end up at the APCG?

I have been volunteering since childhood. I studied Social Work and Services, but this study failed because I had problems finding an internship. I then took a time-out and went to rehabilitation center 't Loërf. There I learned a lot about myself and that is how I came into contact with volunteer work. I joined the APCG in September 2002 and I stuck with it. When our previous chairman left, I was very sorry. He then suggested that maybe I could succeed him. This overwhelmed me, but in the end I decided to apply and now I have been doing this job with great pleasure since October 1, 2021.

What does your work entail?

When I first started working at the APCG, I mainly provided information about living with a disability to school classes. I would go to schools with colleagues with various disabilities. The students were allowed to ask us everything and they could also experience for themselves what it is like to be blind with special glasses, or what it is like to sit in a wheelchair. I loved doing this, also because I always wanted to be a teacher. Later I also became part of a working group that assesses buildings in Arnhem for accessibility. I still do this today, but as chairman I have of course been given some extra tasks. I lead the board meetings and I am the spokesperson for the APCG: I represent our foundation when we are in the media. To bring in a very recent and current project, we've been fighting for accessible voting for everyone for years. You have the 'voting mold' for people with a visual impairment, for example, but a sign language interpreter at a voting location is something that is not often thought about. People wonder why this should be necessary, but communication with those at the location, for example the person who wants to see your ID card and hand out the ballot paper, is of course essential. Fortunately, this year there was a lot of media attention for this.

How does the APCG work?

Our supporters are our eyes and ears in the neighbourhoods. They will let us know if there are any issues related to their disability. We will then pass this on to the municipality and hold discussions with the aldermen. We are also happy to help you find a solution. In addition, we focus on leisure activities, such as inclusive theatre, inclusive dance and inclusive play equipment, so that all children can play with each other. Over the years – we have been around for 38 years – we have achieved a lot, but we remain actively committed to making Arnhem as inclusive as possible. Someone once said to me: “no, Arnhem must become the happiest city in the country”, to which I said: “a city where all residents can live their lives the way they want is happy, so that makes the most inclusive city , the happiest city.”

The APCG also has a podcast, Inclusioncast, for residents of Arnhem. It appears every month on all major podcast platforms.