Young Voices at the UN for Malala Day

Six Young Voices campaignersin New York wearing Young Voices T Shirts

Leonard Cheshire Disability Young Voices members from Zambia, India, Guyana, Zimbabwe, Kenya and Indonesia travelled to the UN in New York to represent young disabled people on Malala Day on 12th July.

Malala Day marks Malala Yousafzai’s 16th birthday. Malala is a young girl from Afghanistan who was targeted and shot by the Taliban for standing up for universal education and girl’s rights. To mark the day, over 500 youth leaders from across the globe came together at the UN to call on world leaders to take action to ensure every child gets an education.

You can find out more about their trip on Tumblr.

Ashwini Angadi from Young Voices India was presented with a ‘Youth Courage Award for Education’ by Gordon Brown on Malala Day. Read more.

Young Voices Kenya: making colleges more accessible

A Young Voices campaigner studying at the Kenya Institute of Management has successfully appealed to the college management to consider admitting more students with disabilities. He also urged them to improve access to facilities – the library and many classrooms are situated upstairs and are not accessible for wheelchairs. The appeal is being considered at the moment and the Nyanza group will be following this up to make sure the college takes action.

Young Voices campaigners from India overcome the odds to achieve outstanding exam results

Young Voices member from India Kartik Sawhney

Young Voices campaigner from India Kartik Sawhney almost didn’t get the opportunity to study science at school because of his visual impairment. The Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) was not convinced Kartik would be able to handle the ‘visual inputs’ – graphs, diagrams and models – required for science. He wrote more than two dozen letters to the CBSE, had an NGO campaign and his school negotiate for him. He has proved all the efforts were worth it by scoring a 95% aggregate in science with computers and he is now off to Stanford University to study computer science.

Meanwhile, another Young Voices campaigner, Vibhu Sharma, became the first visually impaired student in India to write her Board exams with the help of JAWS screen-reading software. She passed her exams with flying colours, with an overall aggregate mark of 90%, and came top of the year in Multimedia and Web Technology. Young Voices have been campaigning tirelessly for over a year to make this happen. Vibhu went to the CBSE office several times, to give them a demo of how she used computer and explain how it made people who are visually impaired independent. Just two days before the Board Exams, the CBSE took a giant step forward by allowing all visually challenged students to use computers with JAWS, a major policy change and a great achievement for Young Voices.

Young Voices member speaks out about the importance of ICT for girls with disabilities

Rosemarie Rammitt, a Young Voices member from Guyana with a visual impairment, spoke at a high profile event celebrating the International Day for Girls in Information and Communications Technology (ICT). A number of influential people attended the event, including the Prime Minister of Guyana. Rosemarie spoke about the impact that ICT can have on the lives of girls with disabilities. Laptops, iPhones, blackberries , the internet – all of these help to bridge the gap that exists between people with disabilities and the rest of society, especially as software advances and becomes more accessible. She called on everyone to take part in ensuring the rights of girls with disabilities are fulfilled using ICT.

Successful campaign to make school accessible

A Young Voices member from the Budaka group realised that her school buildings and entrances were not accessible for people with disabilities. She raised this issue with her school administration. She was initially unsuccessful. However she went back to them accompanied by fellow members of her Young Voices group along with the sub-county community development officer. Together their combined voice has persuaded the school to take action. A week after their meeting five ramps had already been constructed and five classrooms had been made accessible for people with disabilities.

Campaigning success: making university accommodation accessible

A Young Voices member studying at Sokoine University of Agriculture (SUA) was allocated by the university to a third floor dormitory. However, he has a physical disability and uses a wheelchair. Together with his fellow Young Voices members he spoke to the University Board and wrote a number of letters to the University administration. Following this advocacy, not only has he been re-allocated to the ground floor, but the university has adopted a policy that students with disabilities will be allocated rooms on the ground floor. The next step for the Young Voices group in Tanzania is to make sure that this policy is properly implemented, and is also adopted by other universities and higher learning institutions in Tanzania.

Young Voices members in Indonesia are selected for exciting training opportunities

Kartika Anggita, a Young Voices member from Indonesia, has been selected to take part in the Duskin Leadership training program in Tokyo Japan. The program is designed for young people with disabilities living in Asia and the Pacific who have the potential to become leaders in their communities and work for people with disabilities. Over a one year period, Kartika will have the opportunity to take part in a wide range of activities including meeting with disabled leaders and activists, learning about welfare policies and services for people with disabilities in Japan and receiving training on skills such as delivering presentations and report writing.

Another Young Voices member from Indonesia, Annisa Rahmania, has been chosen to take part in DanceAbility training funded by the US Embassy in April – May 2013. DanceAbility is a unique dance method that uses improvisational dance to promote artistic expression and exploration between people with and without disabilities.

Young Voices campaigner speaks out about access to secondary education for students with disabilities

Munyaradzi Mahiya, Young Voices campaigner and a Senator of the Junior Parliament in Zimbabwe, has spoken out about the challenges faced by students with disabilities in Zimbabwe in an interview with the Zimbabwe Herald.

“In Zimbabwe access to secondary education for students with disabilities has become a challenge which continues to rise almost every day” he said. “The situation has worsened because they are few secondary schools that cater for students with disabilities and most schools still remain inaccessible due to infrastructure problems.”

Read the full article.