International Youth Alliance for Peace (IYAP) and World Vision recently conducted a disability sensitization workshop for 50 school children from Meegahakiula, Badulla District. The children were part of World Vision Child Society in the area. The workshop was a part of their Ability Forum Project initiated by IYAP.
The workshop helped the young participants to understand rights of children and people with disabilities, identify the issues and barriers faced by people with disabilities and possible solutions. They also learnt about general attitudes and reactions towards people with disability and how it was necessary to respond with sensitivity. The children also enjoyed learning the basics of sign language.
“This is the first time we have a programme that teaches us about disability,” said one participant, “I had no idea about what kind of an attitude we should have towards children with disabilities and I learnt today. I hope every child gets this awareness.”
“I was so moved by some of their ideas and performances as dramatic renditions during the workshop which conveyed very strong and sensible messages about disability inclusion,” says IYAP youth advisor and trainer, Janith Rukmal.
“It was inspiring to hear children giving solutions to the problems faced by children with disabilities,” says The President of IYAP, Thirukumar Premakumar, “IYAP is looking forward to replicating this workshop with World Vision in other areas around the country as well.”
IYAP is a youth-based organization which initiates youth-led projects that promote peace, reconciliation and sustainable development. The IYAP strives to create a network of young leaders committed to pluralism and inclusion. Its projects are led and carried out entirely by young volunteers.
“Sensitizing children without disabilities, is essential for the inclusion of children with disabilities. Children are the best change agents to promote inclusion within their community and World Vision is happy to work with IYAP to replicate this initiative,” says Samantha De Mel, Protection and Disability Specialist of World Vision Lanka.
World Vision is a relief, development and advocacy organization working with children and families to overcome poverty and injustice. World Vision has a special focus in disability inclusion in all its programmes.
According to statistics collected by the National Census 2012, it is estimated that 8.7% of the Sri Lankan population – approximately 1.74 million people – above the age of 5 years live with some form of disability.
After nine long years of hard work, advocacy and lobbying by people with disabilities, disability rights activists, the civil society and the organizations concerned, Sri Lanka ratified the United Nations Convention on Rights of Persons with Disabilities on 8th February 2016.
For more information about IYAP, please visit www.iyapsl.org.