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Volunteers "Hang Out" During Mid-Autumn Festival to Paint the Future With Children With Disabilities

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unv full-moon_for_cwdTrong Com - a Vietnamese folksong performed by deaf children

30 September 2017 - For the very first time in Viet Nam, the UN Volunteers organized a mid-autumn festival celebration for children with disabilities to raise awareness about the rights of children with disabilities.

The event, 'We paint the future', was held on 30 September 2017 with the participation of more than 350 people among whom were 110 children including children with disabilities, and 34 media representatives.

The event was part of a wider initiative, the 'Hang out with us' project, a joint UN Volunteers' Project resulting from the consultation amongst UN Volunteers and young people with disabilities. UN Volunteers and People with Disabilities (PWDs) participate together to share their journeys, to raise awareness about the issues of PWDs, and to build a positive image of PWDs through social activities.

Children with disabilities enjoying art performances at the eventChildren with disabilities enjoying art performances at the event

The story behind the event

Approximately 7.8% of the entire Vietnamese population are living with disabilities, which is equivalent to 6.7 million people. The number of children with disabilities is estimated to be around 1 million. Despite recent efforts in improving the rights of PWDs, such as through the ratification of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and the promulgation of the Law on Disabilities, PWDs, especially children, are still facing many challenges in accessing services such as education, healthcare, job and recreational activities. One of the major factors that prevent PWDs from accessing services is stigma and discrimination from individuals and the community. Prejudice and negative social norms have disempowered the PWDs and prevented the creation of an enabling environment for PWDs to practice their rights.

We paint the future

Even though many see PWDs as a burden on society and incapable of contributing to the society and economy, in fact, there are many PWDs participating in different occupations, including entrepreneurs, computer engineers, designers, dancers and athletes. They are now becoming role models not only for their own success but for how they bring benefits to their community, and improve the lives of other PWDs.

'PWDs today show more and more independence, positivity and energy which they can build up by themselves and not only with community support. The message here is that it is ability and skills, not disability that counts. To do that, we need to eliminate barriers and the negative perception of PWDs to support our children from their early ages' said Ms. Quyen Vu, co-founder of Imagtor and X&Q Foundation, two social enterprises for PWDs.

'We paint the future is about spreading a message that all children, especially those with disabilities, need and have the right to education accessibility and equal health care for their development. For children who may be capable of working in the future, we need to provide them with more suitable career orientation programs together with the support of families and society so that they can pursue jobs that suit their abilities. The event hopes to inspire participants, especially children with disabilities through positive images of PWDs and their contributions to the society.' Said Tien Bui, project team leader.

The event's key messages are conveyed through artistic performances and interactive activities, in which all children participated. This mid-autumn festival aspires to create a playground for children with disabilities to promote the integration between children with disabilities and their peers. Apart from enjoying performances at the event, participants also have a chance to participate in the 'We paint the future' activity, where they can paint their dreams, what they want to do and the people they want to become in the future. It is a pledge to eliminate disability barriers as well as help disabled children become confident and seize the best opportunities for their development and future life.

Ms. Quyen Vu, co-founder of Imagtor and X&Q FoundationMs. Quyen Vu, co-founder of Imagtor and X&Q Foundation

Volunteerism for the better future

'Half of our organizing team and activities in the event were led by people with disabilities' said Tien Bui, 'We want to demonstrate the ownership of PWDs from the early stages of project development, planning and implementation because we believe that nobody understands the issues and solutions better than PWDs themselves. We all get involved in this project as volunteers because we share the same belief that we are doing good for the future of other people, of children with disabilities.'

The event is held with the collaboration of local organizations and volunteer groups working with PWDs. It was more than just a meaningful event for children with disabilities, it will encourage volunteering activities initiated by UN staff in the future, and the strengthening of relationships with local volunteer organizations and clubs.

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