Closing speech of self-advocate Mihaela Ivanova at #AlternativeCare2016
At #AlternativeCare2016, Lumos self-advocate Mihaela Ivanova gave her concluding remarks to assembled delegates on the final day fo the conference. These are her words.
"Hello, I am really thankful for this opportunity to speak up at the end of this forum.
Before I came here I prepared myself for it. I aimed to be an active listener and tried to choose at least one important thing from the sessions that impressed me. Every night, I made notes.
We have a common symbol in our youth international group of self-advocates at Lumos – a bridge of partnership and equal rights which we are building together, so that no child is left out of the bridge. We are aware that it is not easy work, and adults and children must come together if we want to create a strong and sustainable bridge for all.
I know what it means to be isolated. As a child, I personally experienced life in a large institution.
When I got to know the Guidelines for Alternative Care, I was mostly impressed with the fact that they are be applied to every child individually. Nobody can replace your biological family, but if a child receives care and love from an adult whom they trust and believe in, this child will be able to grow up and show what they want, and what they can achieve.
When it is time to take care of themselves, a lot of young people meet difficulties when finding a job, or when making friends. Even if they have received very good care, they will continue to need support. This is especially true for children and young people with disabilities, who will need support throughout their lives.
It was important for me to find out that in the Guidelines there is a special place and focus on adults to ask children, and give them the chance to actively participate when it concerns their life. This is not easy, and it is still not a reality for lots of children. I can assure you that people who listen to children and respect their opinion are taking the shortest route to children’s happiness.
How many children are here now?
I have a suggestion: More children and young people should take part and have a chance to speak up at the next big forum like this one! If they are provided with child-friendly information they could join as partners. Why not?
And in the end, I will go back to the bridge – here are the new beams I would like to add to our bridge – things I have discovered here, thanks to all of you!
- Funding should be used in the proper way
- Young people should work alongside the government
- Big changes take time
- Change must happen step by step
- This bridge is important for every single child!
I know for sure that only together can adults and children make sure children’s lives are fulfilled and supported.
There is no alternative childhood!