Hoping to break down barriers on a global-scale is Blackburn teenager, Maariyah Kadu, who is set to jet off to Abu Dhabi to the largest international youth forum on the planet.
“My life has consisted of being in a wheelchair and the older I’ve got, the more upsetting it has been to really see how bad the provision is,” said Maariyah, 18, who was diagnosed with Spinal Muscular Atrophy (Type 3) at three-years-old.
Now the inspirational teenager will have her voice heard on the world’s stage at the Change the World Model United Nations (CWMUN) conference taking place next month.
Maariyah regularly visits the young adult facility at Chorley children’s hospice, Derian House, where she enjoys activities with friends.
She is also a passionate member of Derian’s youth forum – a group that gives young service users the power to make decisions about the care given by the charity.
“Every chance I get to make a change, I’ve decided to raise my voice a little and get change – not just for me, but for hundreds of people who may not have a voice,” continued Maariyah.
She will fly out with her mum, dad, sister and brother for the conference that will begin on the 27 October and will run for three days at the Abu Dhabi New York University campus.
She will join 700 other students, aged 18 and over, at the conference to debate issues affecting their lives, including the impact of climate change and environmental damage on nuclear energy and economic growth.
The conference gives young people from all walks of life the opportunity to represent a country, organization, or person, and to solve realistic problems with other delegates from around the world.
“As a wheelchair user, I believe in breaking barriers and using my unique perspective to advocate for inclusivity and accessibility,” said Maariyah.
“The prospect of engaging with like-minded individuals from around the world, who are passionate about making a difference, is incredibly inspiring. I am eager to participate in thought-provoking debates, exchange ideas and contribute to shaping global policies.
“After the conference, as a family we have decided to extend the trip for another week and we will be staying in another hotel in Dubai. I’m really looking forward to it. I am excited to seize this unique opportunity to play an active role in creating positive change and leaving a lasting impact on the world.”
Maariyah recently started a degree in broadcast journalism at the University of Salford, based at Media City.
She was also personally invited to the Disability Journalism Forum Conference at BBC London Broadcasting House on Wednesday 20 September.
There Maariyah joined Jonathan Munro, Deputy CEO of BBC News; Dr Shani Dhanda, disability inclusion broadcaster; and Simon Sansome, founder of Snowball, an app dubbed “TripAdvisor for people in wheelchairs’, in the day designed to encourage more disabled people into journalism.
Karen Edwards, Chief Executive Officer at Derian House, said: “Maariyah is an incredibly inspirational young woman and fantastic advocate for inclusivity and accessibility. We are all incredibly proud of her and her achievements.
“At Derian House we are passionate about promoting independence for our young adults and encouraging them to use their voices whilst giving them the opportunity to be themselves, surrounded by other like-minded young people.
“We hope Maariyah has an amazing time in Abu Dhabi and we wish her all the best. She will no doubt go on to do incredible things and continue to break down barriers.”
Derian House cares for more than 400 babies, children, young people and their families from across the North West and is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.