Supported child participation in Bulgaria - A major breakthrough for Lumos

12.06.15

“I wish that together with the other children on the council we will be able to see the recommendations we worked on and plan to distribute to stakeholders accomplished.”

A member of Lumos’ child participation programme in Bulgaria has become the first young person with an intellectual disability to be selected in open competition onto a national children’s council advising the government.

The success of Veliko Velikov, aged 15, in joining the National Council of Children at the State Agency for Child Protection (SACP) is a major breakthrough for the Lumos-supported cause of child participation, which aims to give a voice in policy making to disabled children and those living in institutions.

Previously in Bulgaria, children and young people with disabilities were only chosen through a quota system which guaranteed that they had a member on the national council.

However, Veliko, from Varna, on the Bulgaria Black Sea coast, who has a slight intellectual disability, was selected by an SACP commission in open competition with non-disabled peers – the first young person with an intellectual disability to be chosen in this way. He is a member of a child participation ‘self-advocate’ group supported by Lumos in Varna, which encouraged him to apply for membership of the national council. He will represent all Varna children, disabled and without disabilities.

Veliko will sit on the council with 16-year-old Stefan Nedyalkov, from Dobrich, in north east Bulgaria, who has been living in Dobrich Small Group Home and was selected from the quota of disabled children. Stefan is not a member of one of Lumos’ groups but was encouraged and supported by Lumos to put his name forward in the quota system.

On June 1, the International Day of the Child, they took part in the national council’s first work session in the National Parliament, where the children and young people were greeted by representatives of the President’s office, the European Parliament, UNICEF and others. The Head of the SACP, Eva Jecheva, emphasised how important new members of the council were and praised Veliko’s motivation and experience.

Veliko and Stefan, who had not met before, enjoyed the experience and each other’s company. They participated actively and were accepted without any special treatment by the other national council members, including young people without disabilities. Veliko was very pleased to be nominated for the position of deputy chairman of the council, though the five votes he won from other members were not enough to elect him to that position.

Veliko said: “For me participating in the National Children’s Council was very emotional. I made a lot of friends. We became a team while working on the interesting sessions. I expect that we will be diligent and make school a better place for EVERYONE. We want the adults to change the way they treat children, to listen to us more.

“I wish that together with the other children on the council we will be able to see the recommendations we worked on and plan to distribute to stakeholders accomplished.”

The national council prepared a statement for senior politicians about the role of children in improving the Bulgarian educational system. They also discussed bullying, refugees and other issues. The President’s office invited them to have their next meeting in the President’s building.

I wish that together with the other children on the council we will be able to see the recommendations we worked on and plan to distribute to stakeholders accomplished.

EXPLORE LUMOS
We Suggest
  • Safeguarding Children by Monitoring and Improving Standards of Social Care
    Safeguarding Children by Monitoring and Improving Standards of Social Care thumbnail
  • 'I was told by the doctor to leave my child...'
    'I was told by the doctor to leave my child...' thumbnail
Associated stories
  • 8 million children are in institutions
    8 million children are in institutions thumbnail
  • A Visit Back In Time
    A Visit Back In Time thumbnail
  • Why International Advocacy?
    Why International Advocacy? thumbnail
  • They won't be invisible any more - Inclusive Education
     They won't be invisible any more - Inclusive Education thumbnail
  • Ion's Story
    Ion's Story thumbnail
  • Marketa*'s story
    Marketa*'s story thumbnail
RESEARCH
×