While I am writing this, there are many thoughts circling in my head. When you read it, you may join my circle of thoughts. If you do it, we could think together… we might be thinking different in the beginning, but in the end, we will think equal!
There are so many different equalities and so many equal differences, can we think different? Can we think equal? Are we different enough to think equal and are we equal enough to think different?
Many questions. Many thoughts. I have had the same questions before. Now I have the answers. Do you wonder how? Let me tell you, while you are sitting back in your comfortable chair, drinking your coffee or listening to your favorite music, while you are travelling back to your home, you can read the story of how I came to have the answers to these questions:
Once upon a time, but not so long ago, nineteen young people from fifteen countries had a wonderful week in Strasbourg. They all came to France. It was summer time, when June was almost over. In fact, it was the 29th June 2014. All of them were creative, ambitious and strong. All of them were talented, openhearted and very motivated. They shared their dreams, they made their plans and they became friends. They were active. They were sexy. Ah and I forgot to tell you, they were… disabled.
What happened, my dear reader? Did you feel something changing in your mind? Yes, you just read it. Now you will have to read it once again. Disabled. Equal, but somehow different in its own way. You are also different like every one of us. However, not that this is the most important now. You are going to miss the story. So take your coffee and follow me… I was a part of this story too!
Let’s move together to the European Youth Center in Strasbourg, France, where the European Network for Independent Living (ENIL) organized an amazing study session – Understanding and countering multiple discrimination faced by young people with disabilities in Europe. We learned a lot and we had a lot of fun with non-formal education methods such as group discussions and practical activities. We had a look at the issues of discrimination, multiple discrimination and hate crime. We now know what there is at a European level to protect people from discrimination and hate crime. We created a space to share experiences of discrimination, multiple discrimination, hate crime and identify ways and tools, which can prevent and tackle the issues. Now we are well skilled in communication, self –advocacy and leadership. We planned and we developed the Campaign on tackling multiple discrimination, where we made great videos! Unexpectedly we also fell in love, could you believe it?
Are you interested now, my dear reader? Do you see how different the young disabled people are? Not more than you. Do you see how many great things can they do? Sometimes even more than you.
They can sing. They can write poems. They can speak a few languages. They can even drive. You do not need to look scared at the car coming in front of you!
Not only have you had the right to choose, my dear. They also make choices – to go to the university, to stand for the rights of people with disabilities, to live independently, to decide for their lives!
My dear reader, you do not need to protect them. They are strong enough. They have their own voice. They can talk to everyone. You have to respect them. Hate speech is a crime. You might be also a victim one day.
What happened, my dear reader? Did you feel something changing in your mind?Thank you for joining my circle!
Think different. Think equal. Let’s focus on our abilities! Let’s focus on what we can do best!
Take a look at the videos we made here!