Source: BrightVibes

As the Junior Reporter for the Voice Kids, Merijn shows that dreams can come true

With Roxanne, Merijn was the junior reporter for the Voice Kids and checked playgrounds for their accessiblity for disabled kids.

Junior Reporter Merijn

Society isn’t always designed for people with a disability. Unfortunately, playgrounds aren’t standard accessible to children in a wheelchair. As a Junior Reporter for the Voice Kids he checked playgrounds with the playground-gang to see if they were accessible.

Merijn and Roxanne stole the show as the Junior Reporters of The Voice KidsSource: Facebook BrightVibes

In the spotlight

Merijn has spasms and cerebral palsy which makes walking and standing impossible. Last February he was approached by the Voice Kids if he wanted to audition for the position of Junior Reporter on the next season. They had seen a video of Merijn checking the wheelchair accessibility of the NSGK (Dutch Foundation for the handicapped child) headquarters and were wildly enthusiastic about his presenting skills. A couple of months later, Merijn was on the set of the Voice Kids and met the judges, contestants and other hosts.

He wanted to show people that you can achieve anything, even in a wheelchair or with a handicap. Along with his co-host Roxanne, they met the finalists, went by schools and kids and recorded videos. They checked playgrounds and got to be backstage and onstage of the Voice Kids.

“I really enjoyed doing it. I got to do things I never dreamt of doing.”

The NSGK contacted Merijn during recordings for the Voice Kids and let him know they were looking for three ambassadors and were thinking of him. He went to an interview and was chosen as one of the new ambassadors. His work for the NSGK means he gets to be present for television programmes, hand out and accept cheques and do interviews.

Fleur helps Merijn get ready for his daily exercise with standing.
Fleur helps Merijn get ready for his daily exercise with standing. Source: Brightvibes

Accessiblity for everyone

Visibility of children with a handicap in society and on tv is very important. Checking playgrounds for wheelchair accessibility is a great example of things we should all be more aware of. There are hundreds of playgrounds that aren’t accessible to kids in a wheelchair or with another kind of handicap.

Fleur, Merijn’s personal care provider says the following on the subject;

“It’s great to createa wareness for kids like Merijn to see what we can helpt them with. For instance, the other day we went somewhere by train and the elevator was out of service and I lifted Merijn and carried him on the stairs and went back to fetch his wheelchair. It was possible because Merijn is about the same weight as I am, but it makes me think; it’s something so ordinary, going by train, but as soon as something doesn’t work, it causes a huge problem.”

Jasmijn, Merijn’s sister has some experiences with this as well;

“It’s something we deal with on a regular basis; if we want to go into town, we really have to plan it in advance. You have to check which busses are wheelchair accessible, how toget somewhere, what you’re going to do when you have to go to the bathroom, because bathrooms aren’t always accessible. When we go out to lunch, and I think this is something I copied from my mom, I always check where the bathroom is: can we get there easily, are there thresholds we have to deal with? There’s always obstacles and we don’t make a big deal out of it: we try to think insolutions instead of problems. Everything is possible, be it a little different and with a bit of help, but you do notice that there’s a lot more obstacles.”

By increasing the visibility of the problems people with a handicap have to deal with, the chance is bigger that society will be more structured in a way that is convenient for people with a disability. And we all want to be able to participate, whether it’s going somewhere by train or play at a playground: it has to be possible foreveryone.

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Read the extraordinary story of a group of friends who did the utmost to make sure their disabled friend Kevan got to have a full experience while traveling through Europe.

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