Young Voices EU Consultation ‘Diversity, Connectivity, Inclusion’
‘Young Voices’ is a National Youth Council of Ireland and Dept of Children and Youth Affairs programme which
IWA Youth Service member Dan Airey represented IWA at this event. Rachel Creevey, Youth Service Intern, chatted with Dan
Rachel: So Dan, how did you hear about this event?
Dan: Dave Barry (IWA Youth Worker) was contacted by NYCI to see if he knew of any young people who would be interested. He called me because he thought he would be a ‘good advocate’
I’ve been involved with other Youth Service projects; I was the MC for the ‘The Wheely Cool Fashion Show’ which was organised by the members of the Bray Youth Cafe and took place last February.
Rachel: Tell me more about yesterday?
Dan: It was great fun. It was all about adapting to change in Europe. We need to be AWARE of how society is changing, we need to be aware and be able to go with the change, rather than working against it. It was great. I made loads of new friends. We all had a common interest. We wanna see Europe be better. It really was a great experience. I’m moving forward in my life. I’m the type of person that wants to make a difference and sometimes I struggle to think how I would and then something like that happens (i.e. the event) and you get a chance to share your experiences.
Rachel: You mentioned you were a bit nervous beforehand?
Dan: Yeah, I was quite apprehensive going out [to the event]. I was part of Comhairle na nOg for a few years in secondary school - I’m actually gone over the age limit for it now! This was the first event that I’ve done since and I kind of felt a bit out of practice. But it was great fun. We got loads of ideas down. It was very informal, yet formal, if ya get me!
Rachel: Was there anyone else there with a disability? Did disability come into the conversation at all?
Dan: I made sure to touch on the topic of disability. I talked about situations when I was younger where people would see the chair first, instead of seeing me. It doesn’t happen so much now because I have amazing friends but it did happen when I was younger. Although it wasn’t much of a big deal for me at that time.
Rachel: I know what you mean. When you’re younger you’re not really aware of the differences between you and other children your age. It’s only when you hit your teens that you become more aware!
Dan: Yeah, exactly.
Rachel: I read that the young people attending the event were invited to consider applying to be one of the three Irish delegates who would attend the next EU Youth Conference in Slovakia in October. Are you going to apply?
Dan: I took the application form home. I would love to do it but hopefully I will have started college by then and I don’t want to be taking time out
Rachel: So you’ve just done your Leaving Cert then. How are you feeling about getting your results? They come out in a few weeks, don’t they?
Dan: Yeah, I’ve being trying not to think about it too much. But the more questions I get asked about it, I’m like ‘oh yeah, it’s coming up!’
Rachel: Where do you want to go to college and what do you want to study?
Dan: I’m hoping to study Creative Digital Media in Tallaght IT. I’m interested in the areas of broadcasting and radio.
Rachel: So what was access to Pearse Street Library like?
Dan: Well what I did was I went around the back. There’s a back door that you can get in.
Rachel: What do you think of access, in general, around Dublin?
Dan: Oh I could write a book on that
Rachel: I think all wheelchair users should join together and write a BIG book on access!
Rachel: Do you use public transport? What’s your opinion on it?
Dan: I would the odd time. I’m trying more now as I get older. My friend Sean O’Kelly has had a series of access issues with the DART. This has spurred him on to launch a campaign called ‘A Day in My Wheels’ which encourages able-bodied people to spend a day in a wheelchair and experience the difficulties he, and many other wheelchair users, face each day. He hopes that by highlighting the issues it will bring about a change for the better. The campaign really seems to be gathering traction
Rachel: Yeah I know Sean myself and as someone who has experienced access issues with the DART myself, I think it’s very important to get behind this campaign
Dan: Oh yeah, we need to; we need to be seen more. That was the one thing I felt yesterday [at the Young Voices event]. Yes I was in a wheelchair but no one saw it. They just saw me as me and they valued my contribution. My parents they joke sometimes that I should become a politician.
Rachel: Maybe we should all join together and launch a political party for everyone with a disability that’s interested in these areas?
Dan: What would we call ourselves though??
Rachel: Mm...we’ll have to think about that one!! So have you any plans for the rest of the summer?
Dan: I’m heading to Cuisle in August. It’s great craic there. And then I’m going to my debs on 12th September.
Rachel: Oh very nice, have fun at that! Well thanks Dan for taking my call, it was lovely to talk to you and I’m sure we’ll chat again soon.
Dan: Thanks Rachel. Talk to you soon.
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