The Commonwealth Youth Council has launched a campaign to support the rights of disabled young people.
The I Am Able initiative aims to address the marginalisation and discrimination of people with disabilities in the Commonwealth’s 52 countries.
The campaign involves educational outreach, myth-busting on social media, and leadership training for young people with physical, mental and learning disabilities.
Leading disability rights advocates involved in the campaign this week met with senior officials from the Commonwealth Secretariat in London.
Giving her backing to the initiative, Commonwealth Deputy Secretary-General Josephine Ojiambo said, “The Commonwealth Secretariat will keep working side-by-side with the Commonwealth Youth Council and support initiatives like the #IamABLE campaign to ensure the voices of young people with disabilities influence both the Commonwealth and national development agendas.”
A leading member of the campaign, autism advocate and Commonwealth Youth Awards finalist Jonathan Andrews said, “It’s vital that international bodies like the Commonwealth, and member states across the globe, recognise not only the difficulties people with disabilities face but also the talents that they can contribute to society.”
Recommendations from this week’s meeting will be fed into the discussions at the Youth Leaders Forum at the Commonwealth Youth Ministers Meeting in July 2017.
Angelique Pouponneau, Vice-Chair of the Commonwealth Youth Council said, “It was an opportunity for disabled and non-disabled youth to come up with solutions that work for us. Young people need to be part of the development process from conceptualisation to evaluation and today was just the beginning.”
Another of the participants, disability rights campaigner Krystle Reid, who was last week named Commonwealth Young Person of the Year 2017, said she hoped it would help to remove the social stigma faced by many disabled people “and to see how we as young people of the Commonwealth could help them to be a part of the social fabric in our countries and be accepted.”
Upcoming campaign activities include the launch of a ‘myth-buster’ toolkit on persons with autism, a virtual classroom on the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and an #IamABLE twitter chat on the 3rd Saturday of every month facilitated by Audacious Dreams Foundation.