Global Young Leaders with Disabilities Provide Recommendations on Disaster Inclusion Work in Call-to-Action

Screenshot of zoom meeting with performer Jennifer Msumba singing and playing guitar, while an International Sign interpreter, Carol Aquiline, signs alongside her. Caption reads: See it's time to write a new song.

In recognition of the United Nations International Day of Persons with Disabilities (IDPD), the Global Alliance for Disaster Resource Acceleration (GADRA) is proud to release an open captioned recording of Global Disability + Disasters Panel: A Conversation with Young Leaders. Hosted by the World Institute on Disability (WID) and moderated by Priya Penner of The Partnership for Inclusive Disaster Strategies (The Partnership), the November 19, 2020 online event featured four young leaders with disabilities addressing critical policy and program perspectives regarding their inclusion work in four different countries. 

The 90-minute online event started with Jennifer Msumba, the award winning filmmaker and musician, delivering her debut performance of RISE UP, an youth anthem she created specifically for GADRA. The song reframed the debate and set the stage for the panelists’ call to action, including these words:

see it’s time to write a new song 

broken and weak? Yeah, you were wrong

we’re taking our place and we’re standing strong

Rise up!

After her performance, Jennifer explained her song is meant to be strong, defiant and have strength which was a perfect transition to the event’s panelists, listed below.  

  • Sabrina Epstein, Student Researcher and Communications Intern, The Johns Hopkins Disability Health Research Center, Senior, Johns Hopkins University, United States.  Learn more about Sabrina’s work at: Find Sabrina on Twitter: @SabrinaTessEp  
  • Minerva Green, Sophomore, Student Government Association, The University of The Bahamas, The Bahamas. Learn more about Minerva’s work at:   
  • Borbála Ivicsics, International Communications Manager, FreeKey, Hungary.  Learn more about Bori’s work with FreeKey at: Bori is on Twitter at: @ivicsicsbori 
  • Faith Njahîra, Independent Consultant and Co-Founder, Muscular Dystrophy Society Kenya. Faith is on Twitter at: @faywangari

As a moderated panel, speakers addressed how their work and lives have been impacted by COVID-19, reviewed their innovative work and how it intersects with the global pandemic and disaster resilience, and then provided the following recommendations as a call-to-action moving forward. 

  • Educate young leaders on how to prepare for disasters, behave during disasters and how to best access assistance and help after the disasters;
  • Identify how to access resources to support disaster preparedness and recovery;
  • Ensure personal assistance services are widely available, with safety protocols for all parties supported through training and funding;
  • Establish guidance to ensure no lapse in healthcare for people with disabilities;
  • Commit to disaster briefings and emergency announcements include sign language interpreters;
  • Design accessible technology resources and other accommodations for youth and young adults with disabilities in educational settings, including from homes;
  • Provide flexibility in funding to empower people with disabilities to resource their own needs (shifting resources from transportation to distance-based technology when and if the change is warranted);
  • Incorporate Disability Justice in our work, recognizing intersectionality and centering Black, Brown, Indigenous and queer disabled people who are the true experts in disability justice work;
  • Include more people with disabilities at decision points so we are no longer excluded;
  • Acknowledge that mentees may be more knowledgeable than mentors (as elders) and allow young people to shine;
  • Understand that young people have different viewpoints and we ask for you to embrace our approaches and techniques; 
  • Accept that when we point out issues, we are not working against you but rather pointing out that there are ways that we can all do things better;
  • Recruit youth and young adults with disabilities involved in your work.

These 13 recommendations and themes create a road map/resource list for us all.  However, the words of wisdom from these four global young leaders is best received directly by them through the recording! On the UN International Day of Persons with Disabilities, Team GADRA offers the Young Leaders Conversation recording and recommends sharing these stories from Sabrina, Minerva, Bori, and Faith in your organizations and communications channels.  

The panel was made possible with the support of GADRA’s Executive Committee Members and Founder’s Circle. Appropriately, the event included supportive remarks from three key supporters:

  • Tali Bray, CIO, Enterprise Services & Portfolio Management, Wells Fargo (WID Board of Directors);
  • Elaine Katz, Senior Vice President for Grants and Communication, Kessler Foundation (GADRA Founder’s Circle Member);
  • Isabel Hodge, Executive Director for the United States International Council on Disabilities (GADRA Founders Circle Member) and Vice President of Disabled Peoples’ International North America Caribbean.

Event from the United Nations: Action Toward a Disability-Inclusive, Accessible and Sustainable Post-COVID-19 World

December 4, 2020 11 AM to 12:45 PM EST

The event will include representatives of Member States, UN offices, organizations of persons with disabilities, civil society, and the private sector. It will emphasize the importance of disability-inclusive responses to COVID-19 and take stock of progress in “building back better,” including addressing the global policy framework on disability-inclusive development newly adopted by the General Assembly Third Committee this past November. 

Link to learn more about the UN’s IDPD event

Learn more about GADRA, including how to join us, by selecting the linked image:

Banner with text: Global Alliance for Disaster Resource Acceleration. Global Alliance logo - 6 arrows wrapping up and around an abstract globe shape, each arrow a different color - red, orange, purple, blue, green, and gray. Background: large matching arrows stretch from the bottom left to the top right of the frame over a pale blue background.

To learn more about the Global Disability and Disaster Town Hall meetings, including video recordings,  transcripts, and polling results from previous sessions, visit the Global Disability and Disaster Town Hall page and COVID-19 page on WID’s website via the linked images below:

Text: Global Disability + Disaster Town Hall Meetings. Collage of ears, speech bubbles, hands signing, and a hand using a communication board.
Banner text: COVID-19. Icon of N-95 mask with tiny WID globe on the filter, and two oversized coronavirus molecules. Background photo of an enlarged illustration of COVID molecules with magenta tint.

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