By Puneet Singh Singhal
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As an advocate for disability rights and inclusion, I have always been eager to engage with diverse communities and learn from their experiences. Last year, I had the unique opportunity to participate in YOUNGA, an annual event organized by Bridging The Gap Ventures, which brought together young changemakers and decision-makers from around the world to discuss critical global issues. The event focused on five thematic tracks: Climate Action and Sustainable Living, Equality and Inclusion, Future of Education and Work, Mental Health and Wellbeing, and Peace and Justice.
Participating in YOUNGA proved to be an eye-opening experience as I connected with like-minded individuals who were passionate about making a difference in their respective fields. The interactive sessions allowed me to explore the intersectionality of disability, climate change, mental health challenges, and the broader issues that we face as a planet and species.
One of the most profound insights I gained from these sessions was the importance of considering disability within the context of climate action and sustainable living. As the global community works towards creating a greener and more sustainable future, it is crucial to ensure that the needs and voices of disabled individuals are included in these discussions. By incorporating accessible design principles and inclusive practices in environmental policies and initiatives, we can create a more equitable and sustainable world for all.
The discussions on equality and inclusion highlighted the need to challenge existing norms and prejudices to create a society that is truly inclusive. It was inspiring to see how young changemakers were striving to break down barriers and address systemic inequalities, paving the way for a more inclusive future. As someone with a disability, I felt a renewed sense of purpose in my advocacy work, determined to contribute to this global movement for change.
YOUNGA’s focus on the future of education and work provided a platform for exploring how advances in technology and changing societal expectations are impacting the lives of disabled individuals. The conversations emphasized the importance of creating accessible and inclusive educational and work environments that empower disabled people to reach their full potential.
Mental health and wellbeing were also central themes in the event, shedding light on the unique challenges faced by disabled individuals in maintaining their emotional and psychological well-being. The discussions highlighted the need for accessible mental health services and support systems that cater to the diverse needs of the disability community.
Lastly, the sessions on peace and justice reinforced the importance of fostering an inclusive society that respects and values the rights and dignity of all its members. By promoting empathy and understanding, we can work together to create a world where everyone, regardless of their abilities, can thrive and contribute to the collective good.
My participation in YOUNGA’s interactive sessions enriched my understanding of the complexities and nuances of disability issues within the broader global context. The event fostered a solution-based approach grounded in evidence, data, emotions, and empathy, which has deeply influenced my outlook and advocacy work.
As I continue to work on changing the narrative around accessibility, travel, acceptance, and disability, I am grateful for the invaluable connections and insights gained from my YOUNGA experience. It has inspired me to remain committed to promoting inclusion and equity, knowing that together, we can shape a brighter and more inclusive future for all.
About the Author:
Puneet Singh Singhal is a passionate social changemaker who aims to revolutionize Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, and Accessibility (IDEA) initiatives worldwide. His unique background, shaped by poverty, domestic violence, stammering, and an undiagnosed learning disability, fuels his desire to champion marginalized individuals’ rights and create balanced representation.