People with disabilities have so many abilities. FYI, out of the 7 billion people in the world, 15% are living with disabilities. In Uganda, that figure stands at 12.4% of the entire population. We have found that some peeps are out here thinking that adolescents with disabilities don’t need SRHR information simply because of their disability. If you know anyone with that stone age mentality, this is a piece to refer them to. We have seen the beauty and power of young persons with disabilities at #PEA2018, their willingness to learn new stuff and we would love to share the message.
First things first, SRHR information, like all health information, is for all regardless of who they are. Every young person, sexually active or not, is exposed to reproductive health challenges, including persons with disabilities. The simplest and most effective way to make sure that these young people aren’t affected by these challenges is by providing accurate age appropriate information, and involving all in SRHR programs, equally without discrimination. Are we together?
By the way, you will realise that young persons with disabilities are more of teachers than learners. They have extra knowledge especially when it comes to communication, that they are willing to share when given the opportunity. At #PEA2018 they gave each participant sign names and taught some how to ably use some basic sign language. When we give them the right SRHR and life skills info, they will preach the message with the same passion as us all; and since they are more of teachers, we could have better results.
They are very cool people. If the young persons with disabilities attending #PEA2018 are anything to go by, then fam, we need to get more of them in our own personal squads. They are easy peeps to get along with, like music, are down for a good conversation and are always ready to mix and mingle. There is a unique selflessness about them to share their story and challenges they face. Take it from us, they make for very quality company.
A group of empowered peer educators with disabilities is a very powerful synergy. There is nothing they can’t do. What they lack in one aspect, they make up for by being twice as good in another. One could be physically handicapped but with excellent thinking, outsmarting us all from Day One. Another who has a visual impairment boasts of superb hearing, and one with difficulty in speech is quick at comprehension. When you have all these factors presented by one group of people, they will make the change the world needs. All we have to do is to include them in our trainings, to equip them with the right info and skill.
Finally, remember that inclusion starts with you. Break your internal barriers and useless fears (yes, that’s what they are) and make a new friend with that one young persons with a disability today, so that you can learn about their limitless capabilities. Share knowledge, time and fun with them and discover that great personality they have. Make the first step in unlocking the potential of persons with disabilities, and then let them shine their light to better society for us all.