UNICEF scales up advocacy for social inclusion of children with special needs
MINSK, 12 February 2013 – UNICEF appealed to society and high level officials to facilitate integration of children with special needs during presentation ceremony of TV cycle Everyone Has a Right to Be Different.
“In Belarus there are 25,737 children with special needs. The majority faces discrimination, exclusion and estrangement,” said Mr. Yuri Oksamitniy, UNICEF Representative in Belarus. “For now a large stumbling block is attitude. While speaking about non barrier environment, we need to think not only about physical barriers but about psychological ones such as social inclusion and stigma reduction. ”
The TV cycle ‘Everyone has a Right to be Different’ was produced by UNICEF in cooperation with the Ministry of Education, National State TV and Radio Company, and TV Studio ‘Novy Gorod’. This cycle includes 21 films revealing needs and gaps pertaining to life and well-being of challenged children and promotes creation of non-barrier environment comfortable for living of all people
Episodes disclose peculiarities and opportunities of different types of disabilities and depicts vivid success stories testifying that children with special needs can integrate into the society, can bring achievements in various fields of science, art and sports. The TV series was broadcast at the National TV Channel Belarus-1. Currently regional televisions pursue opportunities to broadcast the cycle at local level.
This ceremony was attended by Parliamentarians, the Council of the Republic, ministries, heads of UN agencies and diplomatic missions, NGOs, local authorities of cities that joined the UNICEF Global Child Friendly City Initiative, specialists working with children with special needs, celebrities, children and families filmed in the TV cycle.
Among children who participated in the cycle and who performed during presentation, Natalia Byakova, 17 y.o., stands out with her address to respective audience. “When I was 7 and my twin brother went to school, I was not allowed. I longed for school with all my heart and now I am a student. But I still have a dream - let me share with you. We all have equal rights. I would like all people have equal rights and opportunities to develop to the fullest.”
“The series and this gathering are also a preparatory step for further lobbying ratification of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in the country,” stressed Mr. Oksamitniy, UNICEF Representative in Belarus.
Ms. Tatiana Poevskaya, Chair of NGO ‘World Without Borders’, admits that the cycle has already brought positive impact by changing attitudes of inhabitants in the vicinity of Bogushevk orphanage for children with special needs who are enjoying now their support and candour.
Mr. Victor Yakzhik, Deputy Minister of Education of the Republic of Belarus, noted: “It is an effort to diminish existing stigma towards children with special needs that impedes their participation in public activities as well as complicates such ordinary things as going to schools, participation in festivities and even shopping. However there’s still a lot to be done. And we are very grateful to UNICEF Country Office for keeping this issue on top agenda.”
TV cycle is available at www.unicef.by
By request UNICEF Belarus can provide the TV version for broadcast.
For further information, please contact:
Julia Novichenok, UNICEF Belarus