Dumitriţa's journey as a Lumos Young Advocate
Dumitriţa is an 18-year-old Lumos Self Advocate from the Republic of Moldova. She has a passion for listening to music, likes computers and technology, and ...
Youth participation means the empowerment of children and young people to be decision-makers in their own lives, leaders in their communities, and to have a voice in policymaking. This requires a shift in power, and an acknowledgement of their important contributions. At Lumos, we actively support several groups of self-advocates who raise their voices on behalf of children around the world.
The benefits of meaningful youth engagement are wide-reaching. Youth engagement helps young people develop a range of skills such as team work, negotiation and communication strategies. It also increases their confidence in the services designed to support them.
For policymakers and service providers, effective policies and services must incorporate the needs and ideas of children and young people. They are experts on their own lives, and can work together with their families and professionals to decide what support they need. This includes children and young people with disabilities who are often excluded from decision-making, but whose perspectives and contributions are invaluable.
Involving children and young people in advocacy and campaigns brings to life the issues being addressed. Their contributions often encourage policymakers to give greater priority to particular issues, and can therefore bring about more targeted and effective policies and services in the future. Enabling young people to lead their own campaigns ensures the issues that are important to them are brought to light.
“We want to become stronger, and we want our voices to be heard out loud.”
“We need you to ask us what we want.”
“We learn how to listen to each other.”
“I really like this initiative because we kids, through talks, sharing, entertainment, receive life lessons, and learn how to solve difficult things in our life.”
“It was a very new experience for us to try to give a space to young people with intellectual disabilities to speak. I was impressed by the strength of their voices.”
“Thanks to those groups activities, for the first time, after 10 years of being shy, my son has started to sing again, even in front of other people. He has much greater confidence and self-esteem now. In one word he feels excellent!”
Many of our Lumos demonstration programmes have dedicated Child Participation Officers that work with groups of young people to advocate for youth rights. Some of these young people have lived in institutions, and some have not. All of them are leading the way towards real change. Lumos is committed to helping even the most marginalised children to raise their voices and be heard.
Lumos-supported self-advocates participated at the annual Zero Project Conference
Watch reflections from a memorable presentation at the prestigious UNESCO Youth Forum in Paris