Mihaela, now in her mid-20s, has an intellectual disability. Having spent time in an institution herself, Michaela now advocates for children’s rights to family-based care, inclusive education and youth participation. A passionate speaker and advocate, she has influenced policy makers, professionals and NGOs.
Mihaela was chosen to take part in the Lumos project, Turning Words into Action, after winning two gold medals in the 2011 Special Olympics. She became Lumos’ first professional young self-advocate, joining the Bulgaria team as a member of staff in 2015. Mihaela now works for Lumos as a mentor for children and young people with disabilities. She helps them along the journey that she has taken since 2011.
“My role in Lumos is as a self-advocate. This means to fight for the rights of children… Over time with the youth participation group, with the support of parents, I became what I am today. I support the children and young people with intellectual difficulties in our group, in the institutions, and in the sheltered housing, to have a right to choose – with whom to go out, or what they want to do. Or to have access to schools, access to entertainment, access to work. I show the specialists how to treat children, how to ask them what they want to do in a way that the children can relax and communicate with them.”
Watch Mihaela's story. Here we have documented some of her thoughts on working with Lumos, our youth-advocacy work and the importance of working towards a truly inclusive society.