On 2nd December 2016 Grzegorz Płonka, patient of Prof. Henryk Skarżyński and laureate of the 1st International Music Festival for Children, Youths, and Adults with Hearing Disorders “Beats of Cochlea”, has won the Competition ‘The Man without Barriers”. This year in the competition there were 20 half-finalists, very strong and creative personalities. The ceremonial Gala of the Competition took place in the Royal Castle. The honorary patronage of this event undertook the Spouse of the President of Poland, Agata Kornhauser-Duda.
Grzegorz Płonka is a patient of the Institute since 2007. He was born with a number of congenital impairments and for the long years he had been incorrectly diagnosed. Only when he was 13 years old, his profound sensorineural hearing loss had been recognized. Before that he had been suspected of autism and severe mental disability. ‘When I received the implant, it was something unexpected – I could hear the birds singing. I wanted to listen to them all the time’ – recalls Grzegorz. – ‘After cochlear implantation everything had changed, everything was new. I started to hear, to play with sounds and I simply fell in love with music. With my implant I can hear the whole orchestra, flutes, the high sounds’.
During the gala Grzegorz Płonka played this own piano composition ‘Clock’ and L. van Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata. The award ‘The Man without Barriers’ 2016 Grzegorz received from the hands of the Spouse of the president of Poland, Agata Kornhauser-Duda. She had highlighted that ‘it is possible to break the barriers every day. Watching your achievements I cannot help to notice that disabilities are not a limitation in realization of the ambitious plans. Your strength of will and resolve make it possible and increase the social inclusion.’
In the gala ceremony participated also the First Lady of Ukraine, Marina Poroszenko who, addressing all nominees said: ‘We must remember always that we are different, but at the same time equal. This is the foundation of Europe and Poland’.
Grzegorz Płonka often says that it is necessary to persevere in fighting for your development, education and dreams. Receiving the award he had said emotionally: ‘for the long time I had to fight for everything, to prove what I can do. Now I can play like professional pianists’. He had addressed a special thanks to Prof. Henryk Skarżyński, who had conceived the Festival ‘Beats of Cochlea’, where Grzegorz had a chance for the first time to present his abilities. After the Gala, in one of the interviews with media Grzegorz said that ‘If Professor Skarżyński had been born earlier; Beethoven would have been able to hear”.
The Competition ‘The Man without Barriers’ had been initiated in 2003, during the European Year of People with Disabilities by the journal „Integracja”. The aim of this competition is to distinguish people whose professional and social activities can inspire others. They achieve success in business, are artists, sportsmen or local leaders. The Competition shows that disability does not have to be a constraint, does not have to take away one’s dreams, be associated with passivity, unhappiness and social exclusion. Laureates and finalists of the Competition inspire and motivate to overcome the barriers in life. In the 14 Competitions organized hitherto 78 people had received the awards.
The Jury of the 14th Competition, under the chairmanship of Prof. Antonina Ostrowska included: Iwona Bandych-Najdowska – Director of the Marketing Department of Poczta Polska S.A., Łucja Kornaszewska-Antoniuk – Foundation Orange, Piotr Śliwowski – Director of the Department of Social Communication of the State Fund for Rehabilitation of Disabled Persons (PFRON), Grażyna Malanowicz – member of the Board of the PZU Foundation, Piotr Pawłowski – President of the Friends of Integration Association, Łukasz Stajuda – President of the Board of the Foundation LOTTO ‘Million Dreams’, Agnieszka Sprycha – the head of the Media and Publications of Integration and Grażyna Wereszczyńska – Director of the Office for Dialogue and Citizens’ Initiatives of the President of Poland.
During the Gala „The Man without Barriers 2016” the distinctions had been awarded to: Ewa Durska, Jolanta Golianek, Cezary Kopiczko, Internet Personality Award – Rafał Miszkiel, Special Award – Natalia Partyka, Audience Award – Bawer Aondo-Akaa.