Shaun is an International Project Worker at CHANGE. He works alongside Lumos to ensure that children in Eastern Europe are supported to live within their communities, rather than in institutions.
“Visiting institutions in Eastern Europe made me think about me and my learning disability. If I were born there, I would probably be kept living in an institution like the ones I have visited. I wouldn’t have the life I have, my children and my job. This was quite scary but it is great to be part of the work being done to change this”.
Verca, Vendy and Nicky are three young advocates from Czech Republic who presented with Lumos at the Zero Conference in Vienna in February.
Shaun: How do you feel after having done your presentation?
Verca: I have lots of different and strange feelings because it is over now. I am very happy that our presentation went well.
Shaun: Do you feel more confident for the future?
Verca: It was the first time I have ever presented in such a big hall. I think that because I have managed to do this now, I will do better next time. It has given me confidence for the future.
Shaun: Do you think you made a difference today? Did you make people think?
Verca: It looked like [the audience] were thinking about what we were telling them.
Verca and Vendy: We hope we made them think.
In his presentation at the Zero Project, Shaun spoke about his position as a role model for young self-advocates. Many of the young advocates he has been working with are becoming role models themselves. At the conference, he passed on the torch to a new generation.
Shaun: Do you think that you're good role models now?
Verca: I think that one day I will be a role model. But I think at the moment I have not enough experience to be a role model. I need to gain more experience in order to pass my messages on and to become a role model for others.
Vendy: I would like to be a role model. And I would like to share this experience with my friends, in school for example.
Niky: Yes, I would like to share my experience with others.
Shaun: What type of training would you like to do in the Czech Republic, to make things better for children?
Vendy: It is very important that when parents take a child from an institution [into their family], for the parents to receive some training, to know how to take care for the child from the institution. For example if a child has a disability. Because sometimes [parents] are not prepared to take care for a child from an institution.
Safeguarding Children by Monitoring and Improving Standards of Social Care
'I was told by the doctor to leave my child...'
8 million children are in institutions
Seven Levels of Engagement
All Children Count, But Not All Children Are Counted: Your Voice Helps
A Visit Back In Time