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Different-Equal starts a new decade

Over the ten - year activity of Belorussian Youth Social Association Different-Equal in Belarus thousands of young Belorussian people and people from other countries could see the other sides of themselves and visual environment. There were many people with restricted physical abilities. "We do not consider young people to be invalids or healthy", explains the specific feature of the organisation its chairman Vadim Koloshkin. "We just work with the young and help every person to become more active, open-hearted, to use their potential in the most effective way, to make life of full value."

- Different-Equal dates back to 1999, - said Vadim Koloshkin. - Within the project of one and the first Belorussian social organisation Next Stop - New Life an action group was formed. These people decided to create a new association. Officially it was registered in August, but the work had been in full swing long before. That is why we celebrate its birthday when it is convenient for us and our friends. For instance, the past year we celebrated ten-year jubilee in Minsk disco club "Graffiti". The ceremony was held in the best traditions of the organisation: young people with different level of physical abilities took part in it.

- One of the aims of Different-Equal is to overcome the negative stereotypes of our society concerning people with restricted physical abilities. The organisation has been working for ten years already. What do you think, did it succeed in solving such a complicated problem?

- Certainly not. The overcoming of negative stereotypes is more prolonged process. Many people take the view that the disabled can do nothing by themselves, always need to be taken care of and are not interesting to communicate with. Unfortunately, the majority of disabled people deliberately use the image of a miserable fate victim. Different-Equal gathers disabled and healthy people, creates for them conditions for interaction and proves that people with different level of physical abilities are equal from the point of many other aspects and can be interesting to each other. And any kind of activities is useful here: a psychological  training, an ecological action, a visit to the cinema, a party, a summer camp, a seminar, photo exhibition etc. We want people to pay attention not to physical abilities and appearance but to ad hominem [personal quality - translator's note]. And I am sure that our efforts are just. As it is said, things have moved off the starting block. If the eyes of a person lit up during our meetings, he\she dreams about future and discovers their potential, Different-Equal is worth working. And ten new families which were formed during the last ten years (!) are the best proof of this process.

Much water has run under the bridges since the first days of the organisation. What is the main field of activity of Different-Equal nowadays?

- You are right. Since the beginning several generations of Different-Equal have changed. People come to us, communicate, get experience and left us for their future life and career. A plenty of our participants go on working for the other social organisations. To be some kind a pad for further activity is the main idea of any non-government organisation. We as usual create the conditions for youth interaction. Past year young people from different places of Belarus became the participants of the project MY VMESTE, consisted of the set of meetings. Besides, the project MoloKo works in Minsk. Here people can communicate and go in for something interesting. Anyway, we create the necessary prerequisites for the interaction and it is very important. And in July the next summer camp Round Lake will be held. May be it is the most famous project of Different-Equal. As in former times, nearly twenty five young people will become the inhabitants of the camp on the coast of water basin Pleshchenitsy.

Could you imaging what will be Different-Equal doing in a ten year period , in the year of its next jubilee?

- Everything depends on the next generation of Different-Equal. But I suppose that we will not see the profound changes, because people will communicate as usual, carry on the projects, aimed at the youth. The reason is that all people despite of the level of their abilities have the same problems (not the same, in fact, but very much alike, I mean.) People should not limit their ties with society and round of communication because of negative stereotypes. Both disabled and healthy people should lead an active, fill-fledged life.

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