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Young people express creative views of disabilities for video contest

By Karen Cirillo

A UNICEF-sponsored contest invites young filmmakers to share their vision of children overcoming disability.

NEW YORK, United States of America, 6 May 2013 - Ezeria Chazanga was born HIV-positive and deaf 20 years ago. She always had challenges relating to her peers because of her HIV status and her disability. But in spite of these seeming limitations, she recently took the opportunity to share her capabilities through a one-minute film.

Watch all the finalists in the 'It's About Ability!' contest. The contest winner will be announced on 8 May.


She and other youth around the world tapped their artistic sides to represent children with disabilities in creative ways through a recent youth video contest sponsored by UNICEF. Centering on the theme ‘It’s About Ability!’, the contest invited young people age 25 and under to make a one-minute film about their view of children with disabilities.

“This contest has presented me with a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to share with the world what is in my heart and that I am not abnormal because of my situation, but normal like my peers,” Ms. Chazanga said.

This year’s State of the World’s Children (SOWC) report, a flagship publication of UNICEF, focuses on children with disabilities, and the contest was launched in part to highlight its release. UNICEF received over 130 entries from individual filmmakers, schools and youth organizations, all with diverse approaches to disabilities.

The same rights as any girl or boy

Abid Aslam, the editor of the SOWC report, was impressed with the quality and wide variety of subjects. “The films bear vivid and intimate witness to the report’s central assertion that each child with a disability is a sister, brother or friend with dreams and the desire to fulfill them – a child who has the same rights as any other girl or boy,” he said. “The films also demonstrate that given a fair chance to flourish, children with disabilities contribute to the vitality of their families and communities.”

All film submissions were reviewed by a panel of judges made up 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 (Aria TV’s Ajmal Obaid Abidy), youth broadcasters (Safwan Abosahmin), Voices of Youth activists (Alejandra Gaviria and Rodrigue Koffi) and youth disability activists (Michaela “Chaeli” Mycroft, Sen Krishneer and Lucy Meyer).

A source of inspiration

The judges narrowed the submissions down to 14 finalists who best captured the theme of the contest. “The films submitted were really of excellent quality – watching them, you can tell the amount of effort and heart put in by the dedicated filmmakers and their teams,” contest judge Vivian Lin said. “Each and every subject featured in the films was a source of inspiration, demonstrating strength of resilience and spirit.”

Jon Aristu’s film focuses on the disability achondroplasia, a common cause of dwarfism. The protagonist Maia was born when Mr. Aristu was 3, and he has come to see her as a very special person with a strong personality. He rejoiced at being named a finalist: “I am very happy to have come so far, especially for Maia and people like her, because many people are learning more about this disability, which is more than a physical problem. It is also social. We can stop judging people for their appearance – we are more than that!”

Finalist Abdul Ali lives in a refugee camp in Kenya. The subject of his film is a fellow student and friend and he profiles his strengths. “I was just a refugee kid and now I’m a finalist,” he said. “In my twenty years’ stay in the camp, there is nothing that gave me hope and made me see myself different like this. I already feel like a winner.”

You can watch all the finalists here. The contest winner will be announced on 8 May.



“It’s About Ability!” Video Contest

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