International Day of Persons with Disabilities: Chinese youth using their art to promote inclusion

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Another visual material from China Youth Alliance of Universal Accessibility Development. It’s a variant font of a Chinese character “Ai”(碍) --- means barriers. It illustrates a figure of fighter who protect an inclusive society (rainbows) from invisable external barriers (wind), including institutionalized stigma and discrimination.

The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) is the most important international treaty to hold governments accountable for protecting the equal rights of persons with disabilities.

UNICEF China partnered with a group of talented young advocates with various abilities to launch a CRPD picture book project that aims to make the Convention’s key concepts and principles interesting and easy-to-comprehend by the general population, especially children and young people.

China ratified the Convention in 2006. However, the general public, including children, do not necessarily comprehend the key concepts and principles introduced by the Convention given its complexity.

The picture book is currently being developed by these young advocates with guidance from UNICEF China and local organizations of persons with disabilities. Once finalised, it will be produced in formats accessible to audiences with different needs and widely disseminated.

Here's a sneak peek of their work to mark this year's International Day of Persons with Disabilities (December 3):

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A sketch of storyboard drawn by one of the four core members of this project. Image Credit: Bai Jiarui

“When there is love in everyone’s heart, there will be no barriers in everyone’s life.” - Bai Jiarui, 17

"The first time I heard of 'Universal Accessibility' was when I joined the student association on promoting universal accessibility in my first year of high school.

I participated in a Disability Equality workshop facilitated by UNICEF China. It was enlightening in terms of introducing a brand-new way of understanding disabilities and universal accessibility. And with the lens of universal accessibility, I realized there are still lots of areas worthy of improvement in our campus and communities. As students, we are fortunate and enabled to bring some changes.

Not only I am interested in literary writing, but I also realized that the cultivation of disability equality awareness was extremely lacking during my own childhood. I feel I should take responsibilities to promote disability equality and change some social norms for the younger generation.

I hope that through a relaxed way, the readers of the picture books on CRPD can realize that no matter the physical and mental difference among each other, they must work with respect to not become an obstacle to others' equal participation in social life."

I feel I should take responsibilities to promote disability equality and change some social norms for the younger generation.
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A sketch of storyboard drawn by one of the four core members of this project. Image Credit: Liu Lufei

“Together we can make the world disability-inclusive.” - Zhu Lingjun, 22

I have been living with visual difficulty since I was a little girl. I wanted so much to be friends with other kids. But in the special school I attended, all my friends were kids like myself who had visual impairments. Until I became a college student and finally had friends who were different, I realized I was still shy and lonely. I wish kids with and without disabilities would have the opportunity to grow up together and know each other.

I would like to make the story warm and delightful. There will be two kids in it, one with a disability and the other without. They share different moments and experiences in life – at school and in other scenarios. They both have their own strengths and weaknesses but they know how to support and learn from each other.

I wish kids with and without disabilities would have the opportunity to grow up together and know each other.
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Both Bai Jiarui and Liu Lufei, the two of the core members of this picture book project, are members of China Youth Alliance of Universal Accessibility Development as well. This is a visual material from China Youth Alliance of Universal Accessibility Development. It’s a variant font of a Chinese character “Zhong”(中) --- means in middle, in mind. It illustrates a figure of person with visual impairment enjoying music and feeling confidence to go outdoors by herself/himself.

“Let’s write, and draw, and read. The Convention of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities is in our everyday life.” - Huang Ziqing, 16

I want people to understand that persons with and without disabilities are never 'aliens' to each other. The picture book will be attractive not only to young children but also to adult readers.

The CRPD is complex and we have to break it into different components in the picture book. But all these components – and the respective rights they deliver – will be shown in an integral storytelling.

I am really excited about being part of the project. I believe I can learn not only how to create contents but also how to communicate and collaborate with other kids.

I am really excited about being part of the project. I believe I can learn not only how to create contents but also how to communicate and collaborate with other kids.
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Another visual material from China Youth Alliance of Universal Accessibility Development. It’s a variant font of a Chinese character “Ai”(碍) --- means barriers. It illustrates a figure of fighter who protect an inclusive society (rainbows) from invisable external barriers (wind), including institutionalized stigma and discrimination.

“Let’s do it!” - Liu Lufei 17

I once draw about the Convention of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in a school project before. I enjoyed the process so much having the opportunity to work very closely with persons with disabilities.

For this new picture book, I want to make it rich and interesting to read. It won’t be simply repeating the articles of the Convention. Rather, the Convention and its spirit will be explained through warm and lovely everyday stories.

For this new picture book, I want to make it rich and interesting to read. The Convention and its spirit will be explained through warm and lovely everyday stories.
Visual arts
China