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Africa: Social Media Skills for African Youth With Disabilities

Open Society Foundation and Disability Right Initiative have formed an organization to cater specifically to the disabled African youth – African Youth With Disability Network.

Through the network, African youths around the continent with disability received training on social media skills and how to work and portray themselves as journalists:

[…]for the promotion, adoption and ratification of the United Nations Convention on disabled people. The YI and DRI saw a dire need to set up a specifically African organization, which gave rise to the African Youth with Disabilities Network (AYWDN). This group was created as a way to bring together young Africans from across the continent with the aim of creating inclusive societies where people with disabilities can live better lives with dignity and contribute to and influence the internal political debates.

Workshop participants (left to right): Boaz, Gladys and Medi. Photo courtesy of Rebecca Wanjiku

Earlier this month, a workshop was held in Dakar, Senegal and several countries including Uganda, Kenya, Senegal, Zambia, and Tunisia. Persons with disability are not just covered in positive light but no light at all. The workshop empowered persons with disability with techniques on how to handle and take over media especially the social media and included communication and writing techniques.

Rebecca, an active Kenyan blogger, discusses the workshop on her blog:

This week I had a fabulous week with a group of young people; training on media, whether new or old is never easy. The media in every country is almost guilty of similar things; they don’t cover our issues, they entrench prejudice and stereotypes in most cases never have time to write and air positive stories.

The workshop educated and trained the disabled so that they can in turn educate the public using tools such as Twitter and Facebook.

Rebecca writes:

When you think new media training, you probably think I do all the sexy stuff like using infographics to make your website interactive or how to have a dancing or a fancy AVI on twitter. No, think basics on how to set up a Facebook page, why it is important, why you should be on twitter, looking for other people in your country on twitter and seeing why they have so many followers and why or what you should do to get followers.

[…]Think about growing up in rural Uganda, in a wheelchair, motivated by a mother who believes that you must get educated and achieve your potential no matter the circumstances, think about pushing a wheelchair through the muddy roads when it rains, but most of all, think about the village schoolmates in primary school who had to wake up two hours earlier so that they can help push you two miles to the primary school.

A comment from a workshop participant, “My ignorance made me think social media was tough.” Photo courtesy of Rebecca Wanjiku

Deputy Secretary General for Administration at Federation of Liberian Youth, Daintowon Pay-bayee ,says, “disability is not inability.” She then asks, “you have heard that before but what is your perception if you first meet a disabled person?” Ms Pay-bayee refuses to be judged because of what she is that's why she will keep working on her dream:

Disability is not inability. To fight discrimination and change public perceptions, we need to begin talking about youth with disabilities in our homes, our neighborhoods, and on the national and international stage.Donors, governments, and the media need to give this issue urgent attention. Perceptions of people with disabilities are degrading. We need to encourage the potential in all of our young people. I will keep working for my dream of living in an inclusive society where I am judged not by my physical limitations but by my potential and my character.

Daintowon Pay-bayee, an ardent campaigner of people living with disability in Liberia, remembers when she got disabled at the age of five.

There are photos, posts and tweets about the workshop on OSIWA Facebook page, OSIWA Twitter page and AYWDN Facebook page.

OSIWA Program Coordinator Kanja Sesay shared insights from the workshop on Twitter:

@MKSesay: “For the media, it is no longer politically correct to talk of blind people but of people living with a visual handicap” – Tidiane Kasse

@MKSesay: “Young people all over the world are doing great things”… Positive statement from disability rights activists meeting in Senegal.

@MKSesay: #African‬ states are lagging behind in promoting disability rights, youth need to hold governments accountable.

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