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Young British Disabled People to Fly to the Philippines

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An important project to create a united group of disabled young researchers from the UK and the Philippines, delayed by the pandemic for more than two years, finally gets moving.

A ground-breaking group of three British young disabled people have been given the green light to head to the Philippines, having been awarded a grant worth more than £200,000 from the British Academy Youth Futures Programme.

The money will be used to empower young disabled people from the Philippines to undertake research and to use the research evidence to influence policy.

Supported by Professor Anita Franklin, professor of Childhood Studies, University of Portsmouth, the RIP: STARS. (Research into Policy: Skilled Team with Ambition, Rights and Strength) the team will travel to the Philippines this 25th August.

They will work with disabled young people in the capital, Manila, exploring how to be research leaders who can influence policy around disability rights and inclusive education. The young disabled people will also benefit from working in partnership with prominent international disability activists – Zara Todd (UK) and Abner Manlapaz (Life Haven Centre for Independent Living, Philippines).

In June, Professor Franklin visited partners from the Life Haven Centre for Independent Living in Manila, a disabled person-led organisation. In the project’s first stage, the team developed the infrastructure for the planned research training when the RIP: STARS team arrived later this month. Next, the project will test the RIP: STARS disabled young researcher-led model (developed by Professor Franklin and Zara Todd in the UK). 

Abner Manlapaz, president of Life Haven Centre for Independent Living in Manila, said: ‘We were all so excited when this project had been accepted. This will be the first time we will work with young people with disabilities. In the past, we wondered how to involve them more in our work. Now, we can do that with the support of the RIP: STARS, Zara and Anita.’

Professor Franklin says: ‘The last two years have been challenging, but the RIP: STARS have kept the momentum going and can’t wait to meet the young people in Manila. Ultimately this project will be young disabled person-led – it’s about supporting young disabled people to undertake research and to use the evidence to influence decision making.’

‘Young disabled people are often invisible in local, national and international decision-making arenas; creating this network across nations and empowering the young people will enable them to challenge policies to meet the needs and rights of disabled youth.’ 

‘The RIP: STARS are amazing. They have undertaken influential research on access to education and have dedicated the last five years to try to improve the lives of disabled youth in the UK. After achieving so much in the UK, they will now act as mentors for young disabled people facing similar challenges in the Philippines.’

‘Using the generous grant from the British Academy, they will be able to help make sure that young people there feel empowered to use their voices. So the team is raring to go.’

Jordan, one of the RIP: STARS, says: ‘It has been an honour and privilege to have the opportunity to become a young researcher and to see the effects of our work and the opportunities the RIP: STARS project has given us. I look forward to going to the Philippines and working alongside disabled young people in Manila so that they too can become researchers, use their voices and be heard. We want to see the RIP: STARS work expand worldwide.’

Eva, RIP: STAR says: ‘I am looking forward to experiencing a different culture and working alongside disabled young people in the Philippines. As a RIP: STAR, I learned about my rights as a disabled young person; many disabled children and young people worldwide do not learn about their rights.’

‘With our new friends in the Philippines, we want to show that disabled  young people can lead research and then use the evidence and their voices to challenge discrimination.’

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