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Pawel Jordan is trying to increase civic participation by introducing the "new" concept of volunteer service in Poland and other post-communist countries that do not have a history of volunteerism.
Teresa Tomaka is creating a system of advocates to protect the rights of the disabled in Poland's most deprived areas. Youth leaders are taught to use issues as a rallying point for strengthening community awareness while changing attitudes and policies surrounding disability.
Michal Wroniszewski, a physician, is creating a national movement to accept disabled or "special" individuals as integrated members of society in Poland, with a primary focus on autistic and mentally retarded children and their families.
Maria Schejbal brings those challenged by disabilities or addictions out of isolation and integrates them as active members of society. By partnering with a network of institutions like social care centers, drug rehabilitation centers, and mental hospitals, she is developing positive joint initiatives that push both the abled and the socially disabled beyond their psychological and physical borders.
Wacław Czakon is helping to shape educational policies for children and young people by empowering them to launch social ventures and then leveraging the positive impacts of those ventures with policymakers.
Wojciech Onyszkiewicz has created a unique food bank distribution system that not only helps Poland's needy people but also engages the participants in a civic education process that is breaking the barriers between rural and urban communities.
This profile is dedicated to the memory of late Piotr Janaszek. It was prepared when Piotr was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 1998. Piotr Janaszek is creating a new system which provides employment options for disabled youth in rural areas and combats the opinion held by many rural residents, that the disabled are a burden to the farm and unemployable.
Pawel is at the forefront of the effort to raise the quality of foster family care in Poland by launching the first national Polish foster family movement. Pawel's "by choice" foster families are an alternative to the dominant "by continuation" system in which foster care is provided by members of the same dysfunctional family. To combat the drastic housing shortage faced by foster families, Pawel is setting up a unique framework of "house banks".
Blanca Villaseñor established the first program in Mexico focusing on youth migration. Her Desert Youth Shelter provides a safe harbor for youth deportees from the United States, helps them to earn enough money to return home and conducts path-breaking research, human rights defense and advocacy for policy reform on youth migration.