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The Certainties in these Uncertain Times

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By Cheraine Amelo (YES 2018-2019, Suriname, placed with PAX in Bluffton, IN)

It has been more than a year since the whole world started facing the COVID-19 pandemic. This year has been full of ups and downs but one positive thing that came out of this year was the YES virtual workshops that I participated in. 

The first virtual workshop that I attended was the Crip Camp Workshop last August. In honor of the Americans with Disabilities Act 30th Anniversary, the YES program hosted a series of virtual events centered around Netflix's Crip Camp, which narrates the story of youth at a disability camp who became activists for the disability rights movement and fought for accessibility legislation. 

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This workshop made me realize that I have a passion for working with people with disabilities. It also made me realize that there are a lot of improvements that need to be made to include and accommodate people with disabilities in my country. Since attending the Crip Camp Workshop, it has become one of my goals to make my country a more inclusive place for those living with a disability. 

I have been able to pursue this passion further at the Design Thinking for YES Workshop that was held from October to December in 2020. I learned so many new things from this workshop. This workshop changed the way that I plan out my projects and it has taught me how to implement more innovative and impactful projects in my community. 

My biggest takeaway from this workshop is that when implementing a project, it is vital to do projects with the community and not for the community. It is important to involve as many people as possible. The workshop facilitators introduced us to the Innovators' Compass, a conceptual design thinking framework. Using the Innovators' Compass is very useful for keeping me on track and making sure that I keep the community/people at the core of a project. As part of the workshop, I developed a project idea using a design thinking framework. My project focuses on the inclusion of people with disabilities.

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I want to thank the facilitators of these two workshops for awakening the passion in me and for giving me many tools to put my passion into projects. If it wasn’t for this pandemic, I might not have had the chance to participate in these two workshops and meet so many amazing people from other YES countries. 

Stay safe everyone! We can do this together!


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