Young Voices campaigners from Zimbabwe on the road!

20140219_339LeonardCheshireYoung Voices campaigners from Zimbabwe went on a speaking tour of six secondary schools in March and February, reaching an amazing total of over 12,000 school children.

The campaigners gave motivational speeches about their own experience of disability, and the importance for education for children with disabilities. They also spoke about the barriers that prevent people with disabilities reaching their goals, such as discrimination and exclusion, and highlighted what can be achieved when these barriers are removed.

By speaking from their own experience and showing that people with disabilities can be inspirational role models, the campaigners transformed the way the schoolchildren and their teachers see disability. Teachers at one of the schools said that they felt challenged to hear that Young Voices campaigners were achieving a higher level of education than they had reached themselves by doing post-graduate studies. This helped them to appreciate the value of educating children with disabilities.

The campaigners have already changed the views of over 12,000 people. But the tours are having an even great impact, with many of those who attended going on to raise awareness of disability within their families and communities.

Spreading the word

Young Voices campaigner Tongai giving a presentation - a couple of audience members are also in the photoYoung Voices campaigners Tongai from Zimbabwe (pictured) and Markson from Zambia gave presentations about Young Voices and the CRPD at disability inclusion training workshops hosted by Plan Zimbabwe and Plan Zambia, funded by the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (NORAD).

Sue Coe, a disability and development expert who facilitated the workshops said: “The sessions led by Tongai and Markson added an extra, valuable dimension. Their clear focus and knowledge on CRPD definitely helped the participants.”

Campaigner profile: Norris Cummins, Guyana

Norris Cummins

Norris Cummins really enjoys his job. He is a graphic designer and runs his own business which he has called “Footworks Inc”. Norris uses his feet to do almost everything, including using the computer, as he has no use of his hands.

Norris was born with cerebral palsy and only started to walk at the age of 11. His family have always been really supportive and encouraged him to get a good education. He realised his passion for Graphic Design while studying IT and this motivated him to set up his own business. Sometimes people question whether he’ll be able to do a job efficiently because of his disability – but he always proves them wrong.

Norris joined Young Voices Guyana in March 2009 and since then has been a very active campaigner. One of the campaigns he was proud to take part in was distributing 200 musical and promotional CDs about disability to minibus and taxi drivers in Guyana. After the campaign people with disabilities reported experiencing less discrimination when trying to access public transport.

Norris’s message to the world is: ‘People with disabilities have abilities. Stop discrimination. Promote and fulfil their rights.’

MusikAbility – Young Voices performing live!

Eight Young Voices campaigners from their band 'Musikability' posing with their instruments

A shared passion for music has inspired eight Young Voices campaigners from the Philippines to form a music group, MusikAbility. Together they are hoping to change the world song at a time.

On 16th September they performed live in Parañaque City, as part of the celebrations for the 10th Cerebral Palsy Awareness and Protection Week. Their performance went down a storm. Musikability compose and record their own original songs that contain powerful messages about disability. Through their music they hope to make the public aware that disabled people have the same interests and talent as everyone else.

Young Voices Mauritius featured in local news

Local news website Defi Media group has written a great article about Young Voices in Mauritius. You can read the article here.

The article talks about some of the main achievements of Young Voices in Mauritius, and what the group’s future plans are. In the article, Kriti, one of the group members says: “Being a member of Young Voices has helped me to be more confident about myself and I’ve learnt so much and I love to be in that group because it really motivates us youngsters with disabilities to move forward in life.”

Walking for rights

Young Voices campaigners from Botswana took part in a seven kilometer walk to raise awareness of the rights of people with disabilities. A big mix of people walked alongside each other including tribal leaders, councilors, civil servants, people with disabilities and members of the public. At the end of the walk, participants gathered together and were addressed by Young Voices campaigners and several other speakers.

The walk took place in August in Serowe Village, Central District of Botswana. It was organised by Young Voices in conjunction with the Tshidilo Rehabilitation Centre, The Central Association for the Blind and Disabled and the Kopano Rehabilitation Foundation.

Young Voices campaigner takes part in disability awareness video

A Young Voices campaigner from the Philippines took part in the production of a video to promote the rights of people with disabilities, developed by the International Foundation for Electoral Systems in the Philippines and the Commission of Elections. The video focused on the right of disabled people to participate in elections, and making elections more accessible.