Time to change attitudes towards disabled says Queen’s award winner

    It is time to change the way people in Tonga think about those with disabilities, according to the winner of the Queen’s Award for Young Leaders.

    Elizabeth Kite was one of four young Pacific women to win an award.

    Now in their third year, the awards celebrate exceptional people aged 18 to 29 from across the Commonwealth.

    Kite was picked for her work on educational initiatives with youth and disabled people.

    She teaches a braille class to students who are visually impaired.

    Radio New Zealand quoted her as saying there was a need to change people’s perceptions.

    “There is quite a demand because there are quite a few people living with visual impairment,” Kite said.

    “Not many people did know about it [services for visually impaired] and I think a lot of it has to do with just also the taboo and just the attitude towards people with disabilities in general.

    “They’re kind of just disregarded as capable human beings, so they don’t really see the need to educate them.”

    The other Pacific winners included Papua New Guinean Johnetta Lilui, who works with people ion the Carteret Islands affected by climate change.

    Theresa Gizoria, also from PNG, was given an award for helping young mothers in tertiary education.

    Solomon Islander Karrie Jionisi was made an award for her work helping unemployed girls and single mothers to learn new skills to help them find jobs.

    The Pacific women joined other award winners for a three day programme at the University of Cambridge’s Institute of Continuing Education before meeting Her Majesty.

    The main points

    • A young Tongan is one of four Pacific women to be awarded the prestigious Queen’s Young Leaders award.
    • Elizabeth Kite has received the award for her work on educational initiatives with youth and disabled people.
    • She teaches a braille class to students who are visually impaired.

    For more information 

    Queen’s Young Leaders

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