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Inspiring life stories motivate the less privileged

From a wheelchair to a gold medal, from an ordinary to a star, from a garland to the sky, three inspiring life stories were told at the second UNESCO Youth Empowerment’s meet and greet in Bangkok, Thailand.

‘Toey’ Jarinporn Joonkiat and ‘Saysunee Jana’ (©UNESCO/K.Teerathumaskul)

“Coach Doeng” Thanat Shodladd (©UNESCO/K.Teerathumaskul)


Mr. Ichiro Miyasawa of UNESCO Bangkok presents a certificate of appreication to ‘Toey’ Jarinporn Joonkiat (©UNESCO/K.Teerathumaskul)

UNESCO invited Paralympic Games gold medal wheelchair fencer ‘Saysunee Jana’, Actress ‘Toey’ Jarinporn Joonkiat and “Coach Doeng” Thanat Shodladd, an inspirational coach and flight attendant to share their stories on how they became successful to non-formal students in Bangkok to strengthen their confidence and motivate them.

Over 200 participants under the Office of the Non-Formal and Informal Education (ONIE) attended the event at Thailand Knowledge Park (TK Park).

Paralympic Games gold medalist Ms. Saysunee, also a former non-formal student, had a motorcycle accident 20 years ago when a drunk driver crashed into her while she was on her way to work at a factory in Lumpoon province in the north of Thailand. Since then the 37-year-old has been on a wheelchair.

The disaster made her try to commit suicide but because of the support of her family she was able to get through it.

“My family, although poor, cared for me and gave me so much encouragement. I received the warmth and comfort of my family and they gave me the ability to live and go on.”

Ms. Saysunee decided to go for career training for people with disabilities and there she met others, who had more serious conditions but with smiles on their face. And she thought: “How could they be smiling in their condition? And if they could smile, why can’t I?”

Becoming a fencing athlete was part of her determination to be able to earn money and support her family once again. Ms. Saysunee has got one younger sister who then was in school. Her parents are separated.

As a person with disability she has to train twice as hard and manage time for work.

“I have to train every day and also balance my time for work even though it's tiring and I get disheartened but my encouragement is the willfulness to make my family happy. My happiness is my family’s happiness.”

Her key advice is: “Why being stressful? When I have stressful moments, I just let them go.”

Actress ‘Toey’ Jarinporn shared some answers about how she became a young successful actress.

As an actress, self-confidence is very important. But Toey said she was not born with it.

“I didn’t have the confidence at first. And I still have to build it.”

The 23-year-old managed to develop her confidence by not self-guessing and give her full self to all assigned tasks.

Besides, she stressed on having a right mind set.

“No matter what background or differences, feel grateful of what you are because each individual is unique and special in his or her own way.”

Coach Doeng, who is now a flight attendance and an inspirational coach on self- development and life skills, delivered newspapers, did dish washing and sold flower garlands at a traffic light intersection when he was a boy. He knew that education would take him away from his underprivileged life so he set a goal of becoming a successful person and started applying for various scholarships.

“What are your goals?,” he asked the non-formal student participants at the Youth Empowerment event.

“Do you know what you want to be? Do you have any plans?” These were questions asked by Coach Doeng that were starting points for the participants to think about themselves and their future.

“Dare to have dreams and don't give up,” he stressed.

UNESCO’s Youth Empowerment through Mobile Learning Project in collaboration with the Ministry of Education aims at supporting youth especially non-formal education students to obtain life skills, find their own potentials and continuously develop their capacities for lifelong learning. 

The project as a learning programme consists of three approaches: (1) daily mobile learning via SMS with empowerment and necessary life skills contents, (2) meet and greet with coaches, mentors and successful people for empowerment, and (3) monthly meetings in community learning centres to discuss topics based on the given information on SMS messages and in seminars. 

After UNESCO organized the Youth Empowerment Workshop in Chiang Rai in May 2011, in September 2012, UNESCO in collaboration with ONIE and TK Park successfully organized the first Youth Empowerment event in Bangkok where more than 75 non formal education students participated in the meet and greet with Actress ‘Min’ Pichaya Wattanamontri and Doctor and Actor ‘Kong’ Soravich Suboon. UNESCO also interviewed famous Thai actors and actresses such as ‘Yaya’ Urassaya Sperbund, ‘Pe’ Arak Amornsupasiri and ‘Opal’ Panisara Phimpru for UNESCO website and Youth Empowerment Facebook to share their experiences, to encourage and empower youths to believe in themselves, and to give tips for life and the importance of education.

For further information on the project, related news and interviews please see the link below: or contact Sowirin Chuanprapun ( Tel: 66 2 391 0577.

For media and press, please contact Rojana Manowalailao ( Tel: 66 81 825 2188 ( Tel: 02-391-0577.


By Kanit Teerathumaskul and Rojana Manowalailao, UNESCO Bangkok