How to overcome competition in a modern society full of stereotypes and biases? How to realize your professional potential having a disability? This was discussed by the joint project of the EU and the Renaissance Foundation “Civic Synergy” with Viktoriia Skrypnyk, Broadcast Editor of the I’m Ashamed of My Body program on STB TV Channel. From the age of 9, she was moving on a wheelchair because of a genetic disorder that is associated with bone fragility.
Viktoriia, please tell me about yourself: where do you live, where you work, what kind of education do you have?
I am 25; I was born and grew up in Yevpatoriia, but I have been living in Kyiv for 9 years. I work on STB TV channel as the Broadcast Editor of the I’m Ashamed of My Body TV Program.
How did you choose your profession?
She has really dreamed of becoming a scriptwriter since 15 years old. Once, my sister really wanted to take part in the TV show, and at that time, in 2008, there was a Dance for You project. Its essence was that a relative of somebody, who has a problem, dances with a star to make a dream of his/her relative come true. I said back then that I dreamed of becoming a scriptwriter, and my sister danced with a singer, Dzhango, to earn money for studying. She did not win, but the dream had already sounded aloud, and I started to achieve it on my own. For this purpose, I entered the University of Ukraine for an editor, and one year later, I entered the Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv for a journalist. So, I received graduated from two higher education institutions, and I knew two foreign languages since my school years, namely German and English. And somewhere in 2011, I learned about such a cool thing as the STB school, but I was afraid of how to go there, take additional training. In the end, I dared in 2014. I chose the I’m Ashamed of My Body project, passed training, and was employed as a script writer first, and then as a broadcast editor.
How difficult it was? Rate according to the 10-point scale.
It was really difficult. It is still difficult. The load is great, but I love my work. In addition, the management understands my needs. If rate it, then my rate is 5 out of 10, and only because of personal fears. But I think that I was very fortunate because I found work from the first attempt also in the speciality.
Did you have to fight for your right to work at the same level with others?
No, the situation was a bit different. In my situation, everything was decided by the project management, and whether you get a job or not depended on the results. We had two trainees, and they would have employed both, because we were both strong enough. But one girl found another job in the course of training. So I did not have to fight.
Is it harder to find a job or work?
It’s harder to work. In addition, there is nothing adapted here, indeed.
What difficulties do you encounter while working, and how do you overcome them?
Only now, when they make repairs, they already think about some wheelchair ramps, concerning which our economic executives met with me. But we have the territory that we rent and this building is from the Soviet era, which is not adapted to the needs of people with disabilities. It is difficult on numerous stairs. Access is normal to such strategic premises as a dining room or a toilet. And there are no super problems with the access to household premises. As for the stairs, I can go down, still I can walk a bit. But it is physically difficult. Well, we have a lot of men who help me with a wheelchair on the stairs. Still, there are difficulties during shooting, since we have many locations. For example, shooting in the Hydropark, on the sand, and I should be at the same level with everyone and cope with everything. I do allow pushing my wheelchair. Because this can be dangerous. When we go somewhere, the men help load my wheelchair on a vehicle. There were some funny situations in the work. For example, our project is related to people’s illnesses. And sometimes it was that we were going to some clinic to do MRI for a person who seemed healthy at first glance, and they called me to the cabinet, saying, some in, lie down… I had to explain that I was there as a scriptwriter, not a patient.
That is, mental barriers are present.
Well. Recently, I had a conversation with a woman, and I had to find her. I said that I was from STB TV Channel and that I would reach an agreed place by car. And when I reached it, I met her at the porch and asked if I could talk to her. And she was noticeably surprised. She did not expect that the editor from STB TV Channel would be on a wheelchair.
What (who) inspires you?
My family inspires me. I had a normal childhood; I have healthy sisters; there are parents who always supported and motivated me to be like everyone else. I am inspired by my work. I am proud of what we do. It’s nice to be the one who also has the opportunity to help others by means of the project.
What would you recommend yourself at the beginning of the journey, already having this experience?
I would advise not to be afraid. This is the main thing. I remember that fear when I had an interview for the project, and I was told that they could not provide a person who would accompany me at work. And I replied directly that I did not need a nanny.
What can you advise a person with a disability who is looking for a job?
Search for what is really interesting. We will always have physical obstacles. Therefore, you must clearly understand what you are doing and for WHAT. Otherwise, it will not last long. It’s important to find your place. In addition, many people with disabilities have the following complex: if write about something, then it should be about the disability, if you go to the camp, then due to disability. I advise expanding the worldview and not be limited in the choice to just the issues of disability.
And the last question. Who is Viktoriia Skrypnyk?
The more I spend my time on the high seas, the more I forget about my disability. And people, who are with me, forget about it too. Therefore, I am a normal person above all.
The material was prepared with the assistance of the European Union and the International Renaissance Foundation within the framework of the Civic Synergy Project under the auspices of the Ukrainian Party of the EU-Ukraine Civil Society Platform. The content of this article is the sole responsibility of the Human Rights Organization “Human Rights” and does not necessarily reflect the views of the European Union and the International Renaissance Foundation.
The article was originally published on Levy Bereg