Benedicta helps to break down the barriers for young people with disabilities

Benedicta Oyedayo Oyewole helped to shine a light this week on the challenges faced by young people with disabilities

Children with disabilities, Global Youth Ambassadors, The Global Business Coalition for Education (GBC-Education)

Theirworld Global Youth Ambassador Benedicta Oyedayo Oyewole spoke at the world's biggest disability rights event, as the Global Business Coalition for Education launched a guide to help businesses be more inclusive.

They are the world’s largest minority group. People with disabilities – one billion of them – face barriers every day that prevent them from taking part fully and equally in education, employment and society.

For children and youth, that can mean school buildings they can’t enter, learning materials they can’t use and teachers who lack the training to teach them. In some cultures, they are kept “hidden” at home.

Beyond education, young people with disabilities encounter challenges in everyday life. Theirworld has been highlighting the issues this week to mark the second Global Disability Summit, the biggest event dedicated to promoting disability rights.

  • At the event in Norway, a guide for businesses on improving their education, training and employment for young people with disabilities was launched by the Global Business Coalition for Education (GBC-Education), a Theirworld initiative.
  • The report featured Benedicta Oyedayo Oyewole – a Theirworld Global Youth Ambassador from Nigeria – who also spoke this week at the summit and its companion event, the Global Disability Youth Summit.
  • Theirworld launched its new TikTok channel with a video from another Global Youth Ambassador, Grace Payne from New Zealand, about living with an intellectual disability.

The 108-page GBC-Education report – Investing in Inclusion – features candid interviews with people with disabilities about their experience in education, the workplace and society generally.

Benedicta, a 23-year-old with cerebral palsy, described her difficulty accessing services that many able-bodied people take for granted. For example, when she goes to the bank she cannot use the stairs, so she has to be carried inside or call for an employee to attend her outside.

She said: “When I talk about this, I’m often perceived as being sensitive or being angry. There’s still a lot more work to be done in terms of access in Nigeria. Some people still believe that a child with a disability is a curse, so they are made to hide from the world.”

At the Global Disability Youth Summit, Benedicta took part in a discussion about how climate change can affect young people with disabilities. She told about flooding in her area and added: “As a person with physical mobility disability, sometimes I have to be carried, because there’s a river around my area where rubbish is piling up and blocks pathways for it to flow.”

The GBC-Education report contains the most thorough advice offered so far to business leaders seeking to improve their performance on disability inclusion. It makes clear why inclusion plays a vital role in modern business and is not an optional extra.

Benedicta Oyedayo Oyewole (right) appears at a Global Disability Youth Summit event

Justin van Fleet, Executive Director of GBC-Education and President of Theirworld, said: “Today, half of young people with disabilities are left out of school – yet we know when they are included in education and provided pathways to inclusive employment, the impact on the business community is tremendous.

“This handbook helps companies understand how to be better partners and support inclusive employment opportunities.”

Vibhu Sharma, a young, visually-impaired member of the Task Force developing the recommendations, said: “Young people with disabilities face challenges in employment because employers are unaware of their capabilities or feel that people with disabilities would be a liability for them than an asset. The employer mindset needs to be changed.”

Vibhu, who is also a Disability and Inclusion Research Consultant for Theirworld, added: “The report shows that organisations and companies that have adopted to a different mindset have actually yielded higher financial returns, have a greater teamwork and have even expanded their consumer base.”

Global Youth Ambassador Grace Payne launched Theirworld’s new TikTok channel with a video that shares her thoughts on the challenges of living with autism, including in education and the workplace. Watch Grace’s video.

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