Health Team

Join the world on Monday in recognizing the strengths and struggles of people with disabilities

Posted November 30, 2018 12:47 p.m. EST

— Monday marks the annual International Day of Persons with Disabilities.

The United Nations set up the global observance in 1992 to promote the welfare of people with disabilities and raise awareness of the difficulties they often face.

More than 1 billion people across the world -- about 15% of everyone on the planet -- have some sort of disability, according to the UN. And half of all people with disabilities can't afford health care.

The theme for this year's observance is, "Empowering persons with disabilities and ensuring inclusiveness and equality."

Throughout this year, the CNN series, "Turning Points," has highlighted people who embody that theme.

There's the young woman who recovered from a vegetative state and became a competitive dancer.

An artist, paralyzed from the neck down, who paints stunning pictures with a brush in his mouth.

There is a blind competitive swimmer and a wheelchair-bound comedian putting a new spin on stand-up comedy.

Another inspiring story features a war veteran who became a champion hockey player after losing his leg in Iraq.

And there's a girl, horribly burned, who became a respected beauty blogger.

These are people of courage, living up to the ideals of the International Day of Persons with Disabilities. They've overcome tremendous challenges, made their own dreams come true and now inspire others to do the same.