Kristina Dūdonytė’s study visit to increase her knowledge on Independent Living received funding from the Bentes Skansgårds Independent Living fund. Grants were announced on May 9th, Bente’s birthday. This was one element in Kristina’s winning streak this year. She was also one of the persons awarded by the Lithuanian national annual Equality and Diversity Awards that took place in Vilnius on 18th April 2016. These awarded projects and initiatives that contributed to advancing human rights and tolerance in Lithuania in 2015.
Kristina, a member of ENIL – the European Network on Independent Living, is a young Independent Living activist, inspiring other disabled people through her example. She used to work at the Alytus day care centre for disabled people, where she was actively involved in the disability strategy for the city of Alytus. She was also involved in organizing social campaigns, participated in activities of the Alytus disability commission and the Lithuanian Independent Living network.
The Equal Opportunity Ombudsperson’s Office and the National Equality and Diversity Forum, an association of non-governmental organizations, handed out the awards this year for the third time. The purpose of National Equality and Diversity Awards is to recognize individuals, organizations, community groups, non-profit organizations, and business establishments, as well as legal, academic and corporate community, that have demonstrated outstanding achievements and sustained commitment to the pursuit of diversity, equality and inclusion in society. The awards were launched to recognize and commend organizations and individuals for their support to diversity and inclusion, irrespective of differences that may arise due to an individual’s ethnic background, nationality, gender, sexual orientation, social status, age, disability, religion, political views or other features.
Kristina Dūdonytė was awarded in the category “Overcoming obstacles for your work with disabled people”. The award is given for physical, social, cultural or other obstacles overcome ensuring that disabled people can live a decent life and participate in society.
Among others awarded for their achievements are the following:
„Women Speak“, an initiative by a group of young feminists, was awarded in the “Gender equality” category. The project is a media initiative sharing stories of women speaking about challenges and inequality they face.
„I will take in a refugee“, a project promoting awareness of problems facing asylum seekers, was awarded in the category for advancing cross-cultural dialogue.
In the LGBT rights category, the award went to a self-help group of parents with gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender children.
Filmmaker Lina Plioplytė was recognized for her documentary „Advanced Style“ which, the award organizers thought, promoted respect for and awareness of senior citizens.
The media award went to photographer Artūras Morozovas for documenting the plight of refugees from the Middle East to Europe and the conflicts in Ukraine.
An article on the event can be found at this link.
Kristina says with excitement – “This year is really successful year for me. I got the award, then the mayor of my town gave me a medal for this. I was awarded the Bente Skansgård Independent Living grant and also a grant to go to international Autism Congress in Scotland.”
During a study visit to Sweden Kristina will be involved in the ENIL deinstitutionalisation study project. She will visit the Independent Living cooperatives: STIL, GIL and JAG to learn how these cooperatives are working with the provision of, among other things, personal assistance for disabled people. She will also visit and work with Jamie Bolling – the ENIL Executive Director located in Härnösand, Sweden.