The presidents of Young Voices Sri Lanka and the Rotary Club of the University of Colombo appeared live on the “Good Morning Sri Lanka” TV programme on 23rd February 2011 to raise awareness of their joint “Disability Rights Awareness Programme”. The two groups then held a Disability Rights Convention on 3 March at which a Sri Lankan MP and human rights activist addressed an audience of 450 academics and students. The event culminated in an agreement to work with Young Voices to lobby the government to ratify the UNCRPD as soon as possible. Eleven print and electronic media outlets covered the meeting and its central message.
500 youth leaders from various religious and ethnic backgrounds from across Sri Lanka invited the country’s Young Voices president, Ishan Jalil, and the Leonard Cheshire Disability Resource Centre Manager for Campaigns and Advocacy, U.L. Ali Zakky, to be their motivational speakers. The pair delivered the speech and held a discussion during a five-day ‘Future Leaders Conference’ held by Sri Lanka Unites, a youth group dedicated to using communication and cooperation to overcome the after effects of Sri Lanka’s decades of civil conflict. Our speakers, who are both disabled, showed that youth with disabilities can add to the reconciliation efforts and got a standing ovation for their comment, ‘If there is something you want to do, just go for it’.
A Young Voices Asia Regional Meet and Media Workshop was held in Colombo, Sri Lanka from 3 – 6 August. During the workshop Young Voices members from Malaysia, Sri Lanka, India and Philippines received hands-on training in film making and radio broadcasting from renowned documentary film makers and broadcasting experts. The event was given widespread coverage by the media in Sri Lanka and Young Voices members were interviewed by radio and TV channels including MTV Sri Lanka.
Young people with disabilities will be included in all youth activities in Sri Lanka. This is the outcome of a meeting between Young Voices and the Deputy Director of the National Youth Service Council, which supports youth organisations in the country. During the meeting they drafted an agreement to ensure that all events for young people will be inclusive.
Pashitha Dewapriya became the first deaf person to be interviewed on a national radio station. Speaking with the support of a sign language interpreter, he talked about how Young Voices supported him to become a disability activist.
National Youth Services Council is the state organisation which provides the youth with leadership and guidance.