On September 24th, the European Disability Forum held a webinar to present the new programme of the European Commission for volunteering and working abroad focusing particularly on young people with disabilities or with fewer opportunities.
Kamil Goungor moderated the discussion. He is Chair of the EDF Youth Committee, whose members ensure that the perspective of young people with disabilities is taken into account and represented in the European Disability Forum.
The first speaker was Andrei Popescu, from the European Commission Directorate General for Education and Culture (DG EAC) Unit European Solidarity Corps. “We ensure that particular efforts are made to promote social inclusion and equal opportunities for the participation of young people for opportunities” said Mr Popescu.
Anca David is Executive director of VIEWS International. VIEWS International is an international association which operates as a network to promote mobility and independence of young blind and partially sighted persons. “And one of the best and main benefits of the adapted volunteering is related to personal autonomy, the self-worth, the self-confidence”, explained Anca.
Frank Sioen is Advocacy Officer from the European Network of Independent Living (ENIL), which is a forum for all disabled people, Independent Living organisations and their non-disabled allies working together for Independent Living. “I think many of the obstacles we face, also with personal assistance can be overcome by making freedom of movement of social rights also as possibility”, stated Frank.
Diana Zsoldos and Veronika Tolner were former participants of the European Solidarity Corps programme. They both talked about their experience as a young persons with a disability volunteering, their challenges and the lessons they learned. “What did the experience give me? I’m more open, I’m more confident” expressed Diana. “Don’t hide your disability, be resilient, be smart, you are good at it, highlight your abilities and it’ll all be just fine and brilliant experience”, advised Veronika.
The main objectives of the webinar were:
- To present the new volunteering programme
- To know the challenges of the organisations working with the European Solidarity Corps programme
- To know the impressions of the programme from the volunteers’ view