The International Youth Convention 2019 (IYC) welcomes the youth from all countries across the world; whether with or without disabilities. That is the aim of the project group involved with inclusion at the Youth Convention.
Tanja Scheibe (30) was previously at the European Youth Day in 2009. She hopes to meet other young people at the IYC and make an appearance there with her choir Faktor G . The IYC will be the second time that Tim Wolters (15) has taken part at a youth convention. He is eagerly looking forward to the musical events and the divine services.
Tim is afflicted with the genetic disorder RTS, which is characterised by a physical and mental malfunction. He understands what other people are saying, but is unable to speak clearly. He cannot drink fluids and swallow easily and must wear nappies. He is soon overburdened when facing new and unexpected situations. Tanja was born with trisomy 21 and suffered a stroke five years ago. Since then she has strenuously began to speak again. She works with Caritas in the kitchen and sings over many years in the inclusive choir Faktor G. Tanja, Tim and their parents know each other through the church group Handicapped, where people with disabilities and their relatives meet regularly and mutually give their support. The group organised a booth in one of the halls at the European Youth Day, where the youth could try for themselves how it felt to be blind or deaf. They also set up an obstacle course for the youth to overcome while sitting in wheel chairs.
Giving instead of taking
The Handicapped participants at the IYC won’t just be there as guests, with their family members to look after them. They will be running a relaxation room for people with disabilities, the Café Inklusion and one of the display booths. It goes without saying that they are there to help others and to be of assistance to those in need. “After so many years we are used to orientate our lives according to Tim’s needs,” explained his mother, Ursula. “It has become normality for us”. Tanja’s mother, Ute, sees it exactly the same, as she said, “We have learnt to organise all the things which Tanja needs ourselves. We drive her to the Faktor G rehearsals from Cologne to Bochum; we accompany Tanja every year to the youth conventions in Oberhausen and, of course, we will be with her at the IYC”. All this means a great deal of advance planning and work for the parents to take part in such a major event. Ursula Wolters spoke about some of the obstacles which she has yet to meet. “Tim can walk, but the lengthy distances around the exhibition site will be difficult for him. Tim needs a room where he can relax and the chance to change his nappies. His food has to be mashed, so that he can swallow it and, because there is the danger that we could lose contact with him in the massive crowds, we will be hanging a notice around his neck displaying our mobile telephone number”.
Being a part of the congregation
Not only will the parents be actively helping at the International Youth Convention 2019; Tanja and Tim will also be very busy. Tanja will be making an appearance with her choir, Faktor G complete with a band on one of the IYC stages. She will no doubt be bringing lively entertainment with her joyful zest and perhaps Tim will be welcoming visitors from time to time at the display booth. He is already well practiced in doing this: in his home congregation he stands at the door before the services begin to greet his brothers and sisters - without saying anything, but with a wide smile on his face. What do the youth with handicaps wish for from the other IYC participants? As Ursula Wolters said, “That they can simply be there and be accepted as participants by the others and that everyone takes care of each other. The handicapped don’t want to be treated differently. They want the chance to bring the gifts which they have with them and to be a part of the IYC community”. Tanja added, “I want to have fun and make contact with other young people”. Whether one or the other has a disability doesn’t interest Tanja. She doesn’t think in such categories.
No fear of this major event
Should the youth with disabilities have second thoughts about going to the IYC? “No!” said Tim, Tanja and their parents. “Everyone who can somehow manage it should come. It will be a one-off experience for sure, “ said Ute Scheibe. Tim’s father, Ronald, would also like to reassure others, “A solution can be found for almost every problem and we, from the Handicapped are there to give our help”. Christian Mielenz, who is a member of the associated project group, explained what help is planned at the IYC. “ We want people with handicaps, irrespective of type, to enjoy a trouble-free time at the Youth Convention. Such a major event poses many challenges for these brothers and sisters and their carers. We are trying to understand their needs and give our support. For this to happen, participants should inform us of handicaps when they register and the particular needs to be considered.
We will offer our assistance in the search for appropriate accommodation when overnighting on the premises isn’t possible and we will organise transport to and from. Translation will be offered in the German Manually Coded Language (MGL) for the hearing impaired. Translation into other sign languages must be organised as the need requires. We will provide contact persons to help with the divine services, devotionals and the major events in the halls, to help, for example, with special seating requirements. Areas are planned to be set aside for wheel chair users at the locations of each event. Members of the Handicapped won’t only be found at the information points and in the Café, but across the complete premises. They will be recognised by special clothing. When participants express their special requirements, the list will be supplemented as necessary over the coming months”. No one should therefore be concerned that they will not find support at the IYC. As Tanja succinctly put it, “Have trust!”
The project group is still looking for helpers (male/female). Help with inclusion is needed, independent of an existing handicap or not. If you are interested, simply send an email to C.Mielenz@IJT2019.org
Text freely translated from: "Spirit – the young magazine for New Apostolic Christians", edition no. 05|18, pages 30 - 31 © Verlag Friedrich Bischoff GmbH, Neu-Isenburg (author: Annette Conrad)
The magazine “Spirit” has been publishing news and facts about the International Youth Convention since March 2017 under the heading “IYC Countdown". This the ninth article in a series of 12 planned.