Be fair - for a childhood without barriers

Skopje, 2 March 2017: Today at the Museum of Contemporary Art, in Skopje the campaign “Be fair. For a childhood without barriers” was launched by UNICEF, the European Union and partners.

Official addresses were delivered by:

  • Mr. Ibrahim Ibrahimi, Minister of Labour and Social Policy
  • Mr. Mauro di Veroli, Head of Operations section 2, Delegation of the European Union
  • Ms Elspeth Erickson, UNICEF Deputy Representative

The campaign is to mobilize public awareness and support for the rights and inclusion of children with disabilities. It is being implemented as part of the EU funded and UNICEF co-funded Regional Project “Protecting Children from violence and promoting social inclusion of children with disabilities in Western Balkans and Turkey”.

“All children have enormous potential. Like any child, children with disabilities carry the promise of happy, meaningful lives, of vital community participation, and of making contributions to build inclusive and sustainable societies. A society cannot be equitable unless all children are included, and children with disabilities cannot be included unless the environment around them changes to support their participation, said Ms.Elspeth Erickson, UNICEF Deputy Representative.”

The campaign aims to raise awareness about the social model of disability as defined by the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. We want to increase awareness that it is because of environmental, social and attitudinal barriers that children with disabilities cannot participate in society on an equal basis with other children.

“Today we should ask ourselves: why the attitudes of the society create more barriers than the conditions of children with disabilities? Let’s remove these barriers because children with disabilities should start realising their full potentials. The society is the one that needs to change the way it looks at them,” said Mr. Ibrahim Ibrahimi, Minister of Labour and Social Policy.

“With this campaign we want to work together with Disability NGOs, and the disability movement in the country, to change the attitude of people so they understand the abilities of all children with disabilities – those with physical disabilities, sensory disabilities, intellectual disabilities,” said Mr. Mauro di Veroli, Head of Operations section 2, Delegation of the European Union. 

The campaign is designed to stimulate the public to identify with the barriers that children with disabilities face every day. It includes:

  • A hidden camera video capturing the how people react to being served by a pharmacist assistant who has Down syndrome, showing that having Down syndrome does not prevent young people from realising their potential,  but that people’s attitudes and behavior can be either encouraging or be a barrier.
  • A series of videos exploring the challenges of getting around town using a wheelchair, highlighting how physical barriers can prevent a child from participating.
  • A third experiment, where children with and without disabilities were given the opportunity to prove their ability in playing “goalball” – a Paralympics game played by visually impaired athletes - showing how adapted environments facilitate participation.

As part of the campaign, a new mobile phone application "Without Barriers” has also been developed to inform and engage the public in mapping accessibility examples in the country.  It is available for both iPhoneor Androidusers and addresses issues including accessible buildings, pedestrian paths and crossing, accessible public transport, parking, playgrounds and toilets, accessibility for hearing impaired and equal treatment.

In addition to public service announcements featured on national media outlets, social media engagement and online tutorials in sign language, the front cover of today’s edition of the daily newspaper “Vest” was printed in braille and similar specialized media during selected TV news will be used to highlight the issue.

Finally, as part of the campaign, people with disabilities will hold a series of Ability Talk workshops on different topics. 

During the launch, participants had an opportunity to engage with disability advocates and learn more about why and how everyone can get involved in creating accessible and inclusive society for all.





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