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Birgit Skarstein  

Entrepreneur / Leader,Birgit Skarstein / Young Disabled

At the current I study Political Science and Economics at the University of Oslo. Earlier I've studied in the US, and in 2008 I worked at an orphanage in Thailand.

When travelling in Asia, I injured my left leg quite seriously. During treatment in Norway I got an epidural injection in my back. Accidentally it injured the spinal cord, making me paralyzed from the bellybutton and down at age 20. Loosing my ability to ever walk again I faced a whole different world. This turned into an opportunity to shape and impact my world, and the life of many others. More than anything the accident has made me realize what great resources that live in human beings, and how valuable it is that we are all different, with each our strengths and abilities.

I am now chairman of the board of Young Disabled. The orgnization works to influence politicians and other decision-makers, to ensure participation and social equality for youth with disabilities and chronic illness.

I also run a couple of smaller projects in Oslo, amongst others a picture project showing life with a disability. I am politically active, and engaged in sports and student welfare. In my spare time I run my own one man-business, where I work as an adviser and lecturer. What gives me a drive to change is especially seeing unfairness and prejudice. My passion is for people to use their resources fully, realizing their true potential. I believe everybody have abilities and attributes that are worthy for our society.

My dream world is one where are all people are equally respected for the individuals they are, no matter religion, gender, sex, color of the skin or physical function. This would be a world where differences are not seen as threats, but resources and strengths.

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