Like all children, those with disabilities have many abilities, but are often excluded from society by discrimination and lack of support, leaving them among the most invisible and vulnerable children in the world. UNICEF launches its flagship report The State of the World's Children 2013: Children with Disabilities on 30 May 2013. The report brings global attention to the urgent needs of a largely marginalized population. The winners of the 'It's About Ability!' Youth Video Contest are in – 20-year-old Yun Han from China, with honourable mention to 23-year-old Evelyne Hessou Sènan from Benin.
NEW YORK, United States of America, 24 May 2013 – Twenty-year-old Yun Han has always been hesitant about voicing her dreams. "Growing up, I had many big dreams, but I never had the guts to speak them when I was asked…because I can't help envisioning that people are laughing at me."
But then she met 9-year-old Kangkang Wu, who inspired her with his optimism. He loves football and has played from even when he was too little to hold the ball.
Two years ago, he lost his leg in an accident, but not his passion for the game. "I was shocked by his fascination with football, and he was happier than other kids," says Yun Han.
When the opportunity came up to make a film for UNICEF's 'It's About Ability!' Youth Video Contest, she had the idea to show his story to others. She wanted to share his enthusiasm, "especially to those who still live in the shadow of a certain disability, to encourage them to pick themselves up and chase their dreams bravely."
One minute to empower
Youth filmmakers, aged 25 and under, were invited by UNICEF to make a one-minute film that expressed their outlook on children with disabilities, "focusing on perspectives that can be empowering, constructive and eye-opening in their diversity." The contest was launched in association with UNICEF's The State of the World's Children (SOWC) report, which this year is focused on children with disabilities.
UNICEF received over 130 entries from individual filmmakers, schools and youth organizations, with diverse approaches to disabilities.
Yun Han's film, 'Equal right to dream,' captured her subject's enthusiasm and was a strong favourite among the judges, who declared it the winner of the contest. Judge Vivian Wenli Lin stated, "The film creatively allows the viewer to experience the importance of sport in the character's life and how, despite not being able to use both of his legs, he lives above and beyond his own expectations."
"Being disabled does not mean being incapable"
The films were judged by a panel of UNICEF experts (SOWC editor Abid Aslam and Disability Section's Anna Burlyaeva), video artists (OneMinutesJr. coordinator Ineke Bakker and OneMinutesJr. facilitator Vivian Wenli Lin), broadcasters (Afghanistan Aria TV's Ajmal Obaid Abidy and youth broadcaster Safwan Abosahmin), Voices of Youth activists (Alejandra Gaviria and Rodrigue Koffi) and youth disability activists (Michaela 'Chaeli' Mycroft, Sen Krishneer and Lucy Meyer.) They narrowed the entries down to fourteen finalists, before selecting 'Equal right to dream' as the winner. Yun Han will receive a video camera as the winning filmmaker.
An honourable mention went to 'Doudejli', made by 23-year-old Evelyne Hessou Sènan from Benin. Her film follows the story of a disabled boy who wants to go to school, but whose dad refuses. In the end, the boy overcomes the odds and attends the local school. "A lot of things inspired me," recalls Evelyne, "but the most important one was a boy [with disabilities] that I met in a village in Bénin. He was 10 years old, but he has never been in school, even though he was very clever. He told me that he would like to become a doctor in the future, but unfortunately his parents say that he is not capable enough to go to school like the other children."
Both Yun Han and Evelyn are excited to be the winners of the contest, especially because their videos will be featured on UNICEF platforms around the world and "people can better understand that being disabled does not mean being incapable," as Evelyne wanted to share.
'Equal Right to Dream' will be shown as part of the SOWC national launch in China on 30 May. Despite past nervousness about her dreams, Yun Han feels more confident after making her film: "Today I stand out to tell everyone that it's equal for everyone to have dreams and never worry about how others look at you."