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Living With Disabilities Printable Version PRINTABLE VERSION
by Fredrick, Kenya Feb 23, 2006
Child & Youth Rights , Health , Green Spaces   Opinions


While youth account for the largest percentage of the world’s population, less attention is being given towards addressing the myriad problems experienced by the world’s vast majority.

The situation is even worse when a segment of this population are disabled youth, who have been excluded from mainstream social, economic and political life - forcing them into the dark alleys of society, resulting in abject poverty and deprivation of their human rights.

Disabled youth account for the majority of the world’s disabled people, yet there is no special attention being paid to address their varying needs in their transitory stage of life. They are the future leaders of the mainstream disability movements around the world. However, there is no mechanism in place to ensure effective leadership mentoring for them. This is necessary for disabled youth to understand and take up the disability agenda to the next level.

Poverty is first and foremost about exclusion and not just about economic issues. Those who are excluded from their own society are the ones who are really poor. But the issues of exclusion and marginalization are hardly addressed in decision-making and development processes.

Little is known about disabilities and their causes that lead to widespread prejudices and stigma. Such discrimination is an impediment to the active participation of disabled youth in social, economic and political life.

The International Disabled Youth Initiative (IDYI) was therefore founded to fill the gap where there is no representation of disabled youth. It strives to champion the needs and aspirations of disabled youth irrespective of their forms of disability. It strives to influence policies that will impart positively on the well-beings of disabled youth.

In the past, the issue of disabilities has been taken as a health issue without recognizing the fact that it is indeed a cross-cutting issue. No one can speak out better for disabled youth than the disabled youth themselves. This is an important part of the philosophy which forms the foundation of IDYI.

Disabled youth have the potential of contributing to development processes if specific aspects of their disabilities are recognized. Their capacities and abilities should be accounted for. Ignorance, neglect and - even worse - denial of this make disability a human rights issue.

It is time now to come out of the dark alleys of the societies to which we have been condemned. Living with disabilities is a situation we did not choose. I ask my fellow youth with disabilities across the world to join hands in making our plight be heard on the international agenda. Let’s make grassroots efforts in our various countries. We are responsible for what faces us, so it is only fair that we stand up to be counted and express our issues. Let’s make the rest hear our echoing voices - in unison.



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Fredrick Ouko is a young person with a physical disability and also the founder of the International Disabled Youth Initiative.

Address: PO Box 5837-00200,
Nairobi, Kenya.
E-mail: idiyin@gmail.com
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