“We want society to regard us as people with different abilities and capabilities”

People with different abilities are doing everything possible to make society look at their capabilities and not at their disabilities.

These people feel that they have can contribute to society so much so that they have managed to form a forum that is discussing topics that they feel should be raised on the national agenda.

This initiative was made possible through a collaboration between the Youth Agency and the Commission on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

The Youth Agency and the Commission on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities have joined forces to bring together 10 young people with different abilities under the age of 30 to meet and talk about what affects them, without the help of professionals.

Young people said they wanted society to look at them as people who have different abilities and not who have a disability.

Melissa Aquilina, who is deaf, said that this forum was very useful to her.

“I enjoyed participating in this youth forum. To me it is important that there is more awareness about the different abilities of young people, for us to have a better future, to have a more fulfilling life and to make our voices heard.”

Noel Aquilina is a Youth Worker with different abilities and is leading the forum which is made up of people of different genders.

“They want society to start seeing more varied human abilities, where a person with a disability can function in the workplace, at university, sixth form, even at primary school. Everyone is different – you are able to function holistically, in your own way and my ability is not your ability, so they came up with “ability with a difference.”

Commissioner for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Samantha Pace Gasan explained that young people choose the topics for discussion, then the consultation takes place and they are put on the national agenda.

This is an initiative between the Youth Agency and the Commission for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, the forum is part of a broader agreement where we also have research and training but among the most important things is the forum because we are giving space to young people with disabilities to continue to strengthen their voices ”.

Parliamentary Secretary Clifton Grima said that this collaboration between two government entities was beneficial both for these people who have different abilities and also for society.

Minister Julia Farrugia Portelli said that this collaboration between the Youth Agency and the Commission was launched a week before the Government publishes the strategy for People with Disabilities.