Saturday 3 December, International Day of People with Disabilities, will see the launch of the Commonwealth Youth Council’s campaign for youth with disabilities. The project, entitled I AM ABLE, will run for eighteen months and will seek to contribute towards the development of a more inclusive society by addressing the marginalisation and discrimination of people with disabilities in the Commonwealth.
Through initiatives such as data collection, myth-busting and leadership training, the project will provide support and opportunities for young people with disabilities, including physical, mental and learning difficulties. At a physical launch event this Saturday in Mombasa, Kenya, people with disabilities will share their personal stories of success and challenges. In addition, there will be a panel discussion and networking to facilitate discussion about the campaign and ensure that key issues are addressed.
Chief among the campaign initiatives will be a focus on accurate data collection. In order to meet each of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the CYC has resolved that it is crucial to compile accurate and up-to-date data on the circumstances of youth with disabilities in the Commonwealth. If the situation is to be improved, then there must be a clear idea of where we are and what must still be done so that the SDGs can be achieved. To this end, the CYC is looking to empower young people in data collection and reporting through a capacity-building workshop.
In addition, I AM ABLE will feature an online platform to provide information on various disabilities. Though unfounded, it is an unfortunate reality that many myths exist regarding the capabilities of persons with disabilities. This online platform will therefore address those myths by sharing accounts from persons with disabilities, posting success stories, developing documentary films, and including information and links to relevant research. This platform will be directed mainly at potential employers in order to promote the economic empowerment of youth with disabilities.
A central point of the CYC’s campaign will be leadership training for young people with disabilities. This training will develop the skills, confidence and networks of young people with disabilities so that they will be better able to share their stories, engage in the debates and decisions that affect their lives, and become leaders in their communities and beyond. Following this, there will be an awards scheme to recognise young leaders with disabilities who are already actively contributing to their society through volunteering, entrepreneurship or public service.
While incredibly ambitious, this campaign is also undeniably important. It is crucial that youth with disabilities are provided with the opportunities that can help them fulfil their potential and contribute to national development. The CYC is calling on young people in the Commonwealth to support this campaign and to spread awareness. It is hoped that, by June 2018, I AM ABLE will have helped dispel the stereotypes associated with disabilities, and empowered young people with disabilities throughout the Commonwealth.
If you are interested in supporting this campaign at national or international level, please contact the Commonwealth Youth Council at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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