My name is Conor Dillon and I attend the Rehabilitative Training programme in the Central Remedial Clinic, or CRC. I have a physical disability and use a wheelchair full time. I have a huge interest in advocacy and equality for people with disabilities, and always enjoy being part of relevant committees.
In June 2018, we began our Erasmus+ Youth Dialogue project called ‘The Rights to Decide - Making Equality Our Policy’. The project came about after Ireland was the last country in Europe to ratify the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. The project consisted of advocacy workshops and meetings with local decision makers. Last year we ran 16 workshops on different topics in various locations across Dublin.
My experience on the project has taught me about different services in Dublin for various communities, like the National Advocacy Service, Pavee Point and St Vincent de Paul. It was very interesting to get first-hand knowledge from guest speakers from these and other services. I also found it beneficial to learn how to work on a large project with a group.
A major part of our project was establishing an Equality Committee within the CRC. After a lot of canvassing by interested parties, I voted - in my opinion! - for the best possible candidate to represent the adults in the Training and Development department. We decided to establish a committee after we went to a workshop at Leinster House. During this workshop, we met Senator Frances Black. After talking with her, we all agreed that we needed a stronger and louder voice within the area of disabilities.
My favourite workshop was in the Helix, DCU. We worked in groups to design characters, each with different types of disabilities. Then we described the barriers affecting their lives. We had to decide which service would be best suited to help overcome these barriers. This sparked a huge debate within the room, as everyone had a strong opinion. It allowed me to share my experiences as a wheelchair user. For example, footpaths are a major issue around my area and in the wider community, so I contacted the local council about it. This set the theme for all our workshops going forward and made them so relevant and worthwhile. Reflecting, it is obvious that the aim and objective of the project is being met, as I am know getting more confident in contacting relevant stake holders.
We are now entering phase two of the Rights to Decide project and I look forward to developing this on a larger scale. I have already been a guest speaker sharing my self-advocacy journey. I focused primarily on adult services and training and education available to people like me. Our goal for phase two is to inform and equip other organisations and service users to let their voices be heard and ensure they are living to their full potential.
Erasmus+ Youth Dialogue projects encourage young people to engage with decision makers on issues that affect their lives. Projects can last from three months right up to two years, and take place entirely in Ireland or with a partner country.
Visit our Erasmus+ Youth section to find out more, or use the form below to contact Pia.
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