International Youth Day

Today is International Youth Day. International Youth Day began in 1999 as a way to commemorate the power and strength of young people around the globe. The 2014 theme is "Youth and Mental Health" under the slogan Mental Health Matters.

The United Nations states: "Youth with mental health conditions can often experience stigma and discrimination, which in turn can lead to exclusion and/or discourage people from seeking help of fear of being negatively 'labeled.' Efforts are needed to overcome this stigma to ensure that young people with mental health conditions can lead full and healthy lives free of isolation and unnecessary shame, and that they openly seek the services and support they need."

In the Dominican Republic the stigma associated with disability -- both mental and physical -- makes it difficult for most disabled children to be fully integrated into society. In solidarity with the United Nations, ICC believes that all children, regardless of their physical/mental state or capacity, deserve the opportunity to be fully included in their communities without fear of judgment or ridicule.

The Community Based Rehabilitation Program works with disabled children and their families to enhance the child's levels of physical, mental, sensorial and emotional function to improve their quality of life and help integrate them into society. Trained rehabilitation workers, called Promotoras, make weekly home visits and teach the mothers a series of simple rehabilitation exercises to help them track their child's progress. This grassroots approach empowers disabled children and their families to design their own developmental program and take control of their lives.

With support and encouragement, as well as community education and advocacy, the stigma associated with disability and mental illness can be reduced. In honor of International Youth Day, consider supporting the CBR program by becoming an Ambassador for Health, or making a donation. Help ICC change the stigma of disability and help restore hope to children and families who need our support.