Fellow Since 2003
Podkarpacka Rada Do Spraw Osob Niepelnosprawnych
This profile was prepared when Teresa Tomaka was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2003.
The New Idea
Teresa is establishing rural associations where the disabled and abled work together to address issues of common concern. To prepare young people to become advocates in the rural areas that need it most, Teresa has developed a professional educational program where students spread awareness of disability issues and solve community problems. Carefully selected groups of young people advocate for disabled citizens' rights, including proper medical treatment, organized employment, rehabilitation, and access to medical equipment. The program provides immediate assistance to the disabled in their neighborhoods and spreads the results to areas where program alumni will continue their education or work. Young participants become engaged with local municipalities as policymakers while local authorities realize they must pay attention to the citizen voice. Annual programs ensure continuity, spread awareness, and change the attitudes and actions of young people and their communities.