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The Disability Inclusion Academy (DIA)

 

 “Disability is a matter of perception. If you can do just one thing well, you’re needed by someone”– Martina N.

 

Couldn’t have said it better! The Disability Inclusion Academy, first ever of its kind, was held in Gulu from the 1-9THof November, 2018. This brainchild of the Make 12.4% Work Initiative brought together 47 motivated and passionate youth with various disabilities from across four sub-regions in Northern Uganda who were groomed to become resource persons, mobilizers and others, as Disability Inclusion Facilitators.

 

What happened?                                                                                                                                                      

Lots! We’ll break it down into the 2-day Training of Mobilizers and 5-day Training of Disability Inclusion Facilitators.

2-day Training of Mobilizers

The first two days saw the participants learn more about disability and their role as mobilizers and resource persons. Through a combination of exciting group projects, case studies, role-plays and a few lecture-style sessions (we kept them interesting, we promise), the participants delved deep into disability, barriers people with disability face, particularly in their communities, and their role in addressing these barriers. They also learnt more about skills and habits that make a good mobilizer, resource person and role model.

Focus was taken internal as well; the participants examined their personal strengths, uniqueness, skills and weaknesses. Having identified their strongest skills and a few they would like to improve, they were challenged to relate these to the habits and skills of a good mobilizer and resource person. As Socrates put it, “To know thyself is the beginning of wisdom”.                                                                                                                                                  

The 2-day training was concluded with individual presentations from each of the participants.  In three minutes, they shared who they were, what made them unique, their understanding of their role as resource persons and mobilizers to facilitate disability inclusion and fight practices of exclusion, their strongest personal skills and what they would need to grow in their role. Intense, right?

From these 47 participants, 25 were selected to continue on for a further 5-day training. Each participant was awarded with a certificate of participation and are all certified mobilizers and resource persons on disability inclusion under the Make 12.4% Work Initiative.

5-day Training of Disability Inclusion Facilitators.

Over the weekend leading to the 5-day training, the participants were assigned a photo-journal project, aimed at scratching their creative side. They were challenged to come up with photo-narratives on the theme of Inclusion-Exclusion. The results? Inspirational, heart-felt, some-personal narratives.

The learning continued!

Day 1 saw the participants learn more about what it meant to be a Disability Inclusion Facilitator. Particularly, their role as change makers and relationship builders. Through role-plays, they got to practice pitching the Make 12.4% Work Initiative to potential companies and organizations. Real eye-opener to the challenge that lay ahead of them. They also had a session led by Miss Deborah Iyute from NUDIPU on different national and international policies relating to disability inclusion.

Day 2 started off with a discussion on definitions of disability, types of impairments and models of defining disability.  A session ensued on respectful terminologies for persons with disabilities. In their sub-regional groups, the participants came up with common disrespectful terms usually used in their languages to refer to people with disabilities. They were further tasked to come with alternative, appropriate terms, in their respective local languages.

On Day 3, the intensity was upped with discussions on inclusion of people with various disabilities. This was facilitated with insightful presentations from representatives of various Disabled Peoples Organizations including Uganda National Association of the Deaf, Uganda Albinos Association, Uganda National Association of the Blind, Uganda National Action of Physical Disability and Foundation of Persons affected by Dwarfism-Uganda. The participants gained more knowledge on barriers, disability etiquette, encouraging participation and reasonable accommodation for people with various disabilities.

Day 4– more on their roles as trainers and advisors. The participants learnt how to prepare for a disability awareness training. This included budgeting for time, activities and content of training. The afternoon session was all about facilitating an inclusive workplace. The participants went through typical scenarios they would come across as Disability Inclusion Facilitators and were challenged to come up with a primary course of action to address the presented scenario.

Day 5. A brief discussion on facilitating inclusive meetings/trainings and inclusion of persons with disabilities in the whole project cycle. This was followed by an introduction to the Make 12.4% Work App and ReferAll App. In their respective sub-regions, the participants became familiar with how the above-mentioned apps worked. They also came up with monthly meeting days and elected group leaders that will be in charge of coordinating their joint activities and meet-ups.

With that, the 5-day training came to an end but not before a closing speech by the Gulu Disabled Persons Union Vice Chairman, Mr. Lakwenyera Denis Ocen, a certificate ceremony and cake! Because what’s a celebration without cake? (Probably still a celebration, but… missing something… something cakey)