I thought it would be cool if all of you could see what I said to all the cool people in Chicago. So, here it is:
I’d like to start by saying thank you for giving me this amazing award. It’s such an honour to be recognised for the work I’m doing with differently abled people in South Africa.
I was born in 1994 and in my country we are known as Madiba babies, as this was the year that Nelson Mandela became president of the new South Africa. It’s even more special for me to be getting this award from Mr F.W. De Klerk, who worked with President Mandela towards a more equal society. I am so grateful that I was born into a democracy. I do feel, though, that people with disabilities are still living in our own form of apartheid.
We are segregated from society not by choice but by a lack of accessibility and acceptance. These are issues that I, through The Chaeli Campaign, am working at getting more accessibility in all places as well as changing the attitudes of able-bodied people. It’s also important to educate people about the abilities of people living with disabilities. My main drive is for differently abled people to be included and accepted the way we are, because we cannot change our disability but we can change the way people see our disability.
I believe that we can do it. We can make disability just another trait instead of a reason for exclusion. We need to work together to make it happen. There’s a song by Nickelback that says “What’s worth the prize is always worth the fight” and I know that the prize of inclusion is definitely worth the fight.