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Globallove Youth Trust (Wales, UK) & Center for Intercultural Dialogue (MK) – Youth in Action Programme: Action 3.1

Active Youth Participation & Disabled Youth A Facilitation Handbook Borika Krushareva, Mohammed Zaman, Ilona Berry, Anne Van Der Meer, Paulina Przybyl and George Hleb

Working with young people with disabilities Disabilities can be physical, sensory, intellectual, health or mental health related. They may be seen or un-seen. Some young people may have a combination of these disabilities. Young people with a disability may also face other disadvantages such as being from an ethnic minority or a deprived background. Projects can exclusively target young people with a disability, work on integrating young people with and without a disability or involve working with one (or more) young people with disabilities as part of a larger group. Methods and working styles should be adjusted to the context. Youth workers should be aware the specific needs of the individuals in their group, as well as the needs of the group as whole. But the main point is not to see and present the disability as an inability, but as a difference that distinguishes that one person from another – as uniqueness, individuality.

Obstacles that can effect youth participation: When speaking about obstacles, we are going to classify them as physical or psychological. Everything that makes more difficult the whole process of participation of this group or may occur as a problem or cause a problem, we see it as an obstacle. 1) Physical: a) Accessibility: facilities/ language/ working conditions b) Laws and regulations c) Visibility of people with a disability 2) Psychological: a) Experience and knowledge of youth workers to find alternative ways of working b) Prejudices of the group c) Bullying (bad humor, mocking) d) Parental concern and potentially overprotecting them e) Lack of self-confidence and potential prejudices regarding acceptance that people with a disability may have f) Attitude and approach of youth workers and other young people (mean, too careful, scared, patronizing, underestimating, political correctness) g) Assumptions and presumptions on what young people with disabilities can and can’t do h) National political agendas which may influence the position of disabled young people in society or to influence on their incentive to be involved i) Needs of the whole group



“ACTive YOUth!!!” 16 -23 of June 2013 Mavrovo, Macedonia Youth in action Programme: Action 3.1 Seminar

Conditions that encourage youth participation: Before one gets down to work and actually try to mobilize disabled youngsters in your activities, first one should make sure that he/she has the right setting for doing it efficiently. If one gets them involved without having the right atmosphere for working and good communication among the group, it would probably face rejection and will probably cause averse to this whole “youth participation” thing. So, the things that one should make sure to have or to provide before deciding to get involved in this kind of participation are: 1) 2) 3) 4) 5) 6) 7)

Raising awareness (acceptance of the disabled, the society) Busting myths and stigmas Making services fully accessible Taking time with a relaxed environment and no unnecessary pressure Honesty (both ways) and respect Positive attitudes – focus on the possibilities rather than the disabilities Not trying to be too politically correct (learning from mistakes: learning from direct communication, feeling free to ask any questions) 8) Remembering that the young person may be the expert in their condition and know best what they can and can’t do

Solutions for overcoming obstacles and challenges to participation: Here are some advices on how to overcome these obstacles or just try to get the right working environment that will contribute in more successful youth participation of disable young people: Problem Accessibility: facilities Working conditions and environment


Laws and regulations

Visibility & perception

Solution Select accessible buildings with good public transport links Appropriate working materials (for example for young people who are dyslexia, visually impaired or hearing impaired); appropriate atmosphere (for example a separate room for young people that may need ‘quiet time’; appropriate tools and methods of working to suit the needs of individuals (for example demonstrations as well as explanations) Adopting the language to the needs of the group, providing people support to get over language barriers In countries with limited statutes, encourage activism to promote inclusion and ensure it gets onto the political agenda By addressing accessibility and ensuring greater participation by young people with disabilities, in turn there is greater visibility. It is also important to use positive role models to change the perception of being disable - this also connects with raising awareness that it is not good to pity young people th


“ACTive YOUth!!!” 16 -23 of June 2013 Mavrovo, Macedonia Youth in action Programme: Action 3.1 Seminar

Experience and knowledge of workers

Prejudices of the group

Bullying, bad humor, mocking

Parental concern

Lack of self-confidence, prejudices that disabled ones have Attitude/approach (mean, too careful, scared, patronizing, underestimating, political correctness)

Assumptions & presumptions

Political agendas

Needs of the whole group (mixed)

with a disability Trainings and seminars for leaders and other interested parties, and cooperation with specialist organizations and institutions In conjunction with visibility and working on the awareness, informing them about the “truth” and “myths” about disabilities, and encouraging dialog between those with a disabled and those without a disability to share thought and feelings Provide opportunities for young people without a disability to experience what it is like for a day / session to have a specific disability (for example using a wheelchair or being blind folded and carrying out everyday activities); also raising the awareness of the group that everyone has their own limitations or disabilities or could be in a different situation in the future Work with parents to address their fears over their child’s participation and where possible also give them support to motivate their children into being more active Build trust between the youth worker and the young disabled people and support them to participate in a variety of activities Focus on the process not the final product; take an optimistic view; ensure parties are equal in interactions; find out what the young person wants (for example asking what they really (don’t) need, see as offensive etc) “There are no stupid questions” – consulting with the disabled ones through open and honest communication Trying not to use this group for a hidden political agenda, because afterwards you may have a bigger resentment or future involvement in activism, but if there is a political agenda be honest and open as much as you can, at least to earn their trust and to leave them choose whether they want to be involved or not Achieve balance and compromise, having in mind that is not about the minority but what is a reasonable



“ACTive YOUth!!!” 16 -23 of June 2013 Mavrovo, Macedonia Youth in action Programme: Action 3.1 Seminar

Examples: Sitting volleyball – sitting volleyball is a modified form of volleyball to allow those with and without a disability to play. It uses a standard volleyball and the net, court size and team size can be modified to suit the needs of the group. For further information and opportunities to participate in competitions, contact the volleyball association in your country. Newcastle City Council Initiative Get Connected Last year they worked with over 100 disabled young people in various projects involving Dance, Photography, Judo, Youth Theatre and Creating Music. For more information you can see their website: Tips for parents/carers with disabled children    

Encourage independence Help them research into potential career fields Encourage work experience volunteering and general socializing Identifying the education and training requirements for areas of interest

For more information you can see their website: ations/eOrderingDownload/00776-2007DOM-EN.pdf

Famous disabled persons and stories who can be inspiring Beethoven (deaf) –Composer and musician Steve Wonder (Blind) –Musician Thomas Edison (learning disabilities) – Inventor Vincent Van Gogh (mental illness) – Painter John Nash (Schizophrenia) – Mathematician The following success stories illustrate how working empowers the lives of people with disabilities while contributing to the character of our communitie: Usefull literature and links: th


“ACTive YOUth!!!” 16 -23 of June 2013 Mavrovo, Macedonia Youth in action Programme: Action 3.1 Seminar

Authors: Borika Krushareva (Macedonia), Mohammed Zaman (UK), Ilona Berry (UK), Anne Van Der Meer (Netherlands), Paulina Przybyl (Poland & Macedonia) and George Hleb (Cyprus)



“ACTive YOUth!!!� 16 -23 of June 2013 Mavrovo, Macedonia Youth in action Programme: Action 3.1 Seminar

Youth participation & disabled youth facilitation handbook