My disability does not bother me, what bothers me are the barriers in the environment

Jane Velkovski, 11 year old, disability advocate delivers a strong message to world leaders

21 November 2019
On 20 November 2019, (right) Jane Velkovski, 11, and Volodymyr Charushyn, 16, participate in a panel discussion as part of a global summit at United Nations Headquarters in New York, joining children and young people the world over in demanding action to protect and promote child rights.
© UNICEF/UN0347571/McIlwaine

Jane Velkovski, 11 year old, disability advocate full speech delivered during the Panel Discussion - Leave no Child Behind: For Every Child, Every Right. High-Level Meeting of the General Assembly “Thirtieth Anniversary of the adoption of the Convention on the Rights of the Child and Celebration of World Children’s Day” 20 November 2019 United Nations General Assembly Hall, NYHQ


“I'm so happy to be here today. I was born with Spinal Muscular Atrophy, and because of that I get around with a wheelchair which I call a Formula. But my parents taught me from a young age that I can do everything others can only in a different way. As I grew up - it became my rule - to do everything and enjoy life.

I go to school and have many friends. I study, go out, play, but my biggest passion is football. I’ve loved football since I was very young, and I play football every moment I can. It gives me strength and energy and makes me happy. Football helped me fight to get therapy, connected me to many celebrities and made me a great fighter for equality in sport. I believe that everyone in the world can play football no matter how they play. It is important to be equal and respectful. 

I consider myself to be equal to everyone, that’s the way I act, and that the way everyone should act. But it is not easy when you are use a wheelchair because there are many obstacles on the path. 
My disability does not bother me, what bothers me are the barriers in the environment. It annoys me when I am prevented from going somewhere, if there is no ramp or no transportation for me and my parents have to take me. Until now I was young, so my parents helped me and removed the obstacles for me. But I want to grow up into a person who is independent.

Kids like me certainly feel the same way and I would like to tell them – to be persistent and never give up on their dreams. They need to break down barriers whenever they appear and do good things when good is missing.

And for adults I want to tell them, you must do everything for child rights and remove all the barriers. Put an end to discrimination!”
 

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