CATS 2014, a positive experience for young people from Lumos

August 2014

At this year’s Children as Actors for Transforming Society (CATS) conference, we had the chance to welcome a delegation of 10 young people with disabilities from Lumos. The young people from Bulgaria and the Czech Republic played a leading role in many of the conference activities. The Lumos team ran a popular workshop on ‘Modelling Inclusive Child Participation’, they were part of the plenary panel discussing children and health and they created piece of theatre on the theme of listening to children.

Lumos is a UK-based charity created by JK Rowling, author of the Harry Potter books. Lumos works for the de-institutionalisation of children in East European countries.

Their workshop was inspired by one of their recent projects, Turning Words Into Action, and was co-facilitated by some of the young people who had participated in it, in Bulgaria and the Czech Republic.

The audience all agreed that the workshop was emotionally very powerful. “Inspiring workshop! Loved hearing from the children and seeing their confidence. Great role models to other children!” said one attendee.

Martin, one of the young Lumos representatives, discussed his experience of co-facilitating: “I felt very happy about our workshop and I think I got better at speaking to an audience.”

Throughout the week, we saw the young people from Lumos gaining confidence.  The skills seemed to never end: co-facilitating a workshop; discussing their experiences during the health themed plenary session; acting on stage a story they devised and not to mention the singing on the talent night… they were busy and seemed to thoroughly enjoy themselves throughout!

Some of the young Lumos representatives get ready for animating the plenary session on health issues.

Some of the young Lumos representatives get ready for animating the plenary session on health issues.

Here are some of their comments on their experience at CATS:

“People want to listen to us and show great appreciation.” “Having the chance to share experiences with others is the most important thing for me here.” Teddy (17) from Bulgaria

“We wanted everyone to know that we exist… We wanted our voices to be heard on every continent and in every language. WE have THE RIGHT to participate whenever it concerns us.” Ivan, from Bulgaria

“We would like to stay here for a month – there are so many activities and ways for us to take part in them.” Yasen (17) and Veliko (14) from Bulgaria

“Last year I was more nervous on the stage than this year. I saw a lot of friends this year and I was very motivated to tell them what changes have happened in my life over the past year; they expected me to inform them as their friend. I felt calm.” “I felt better on the big stage being in front of all the people because I knew they had come from all over the world and that they would support me. People at CATS are friendly, open and supportive and have good hearts.” “I believe I can come again next year in order to share all the new things that I will have achieved and will have gone through.” Mihaela (26) from Bulgaria