The study session “All in – creating inclusive and empowering spaces for all”, coordinated by International Falcon Movement – Socialist Educational International (IFM-SEI) and the European Network on Independent Living (ENIL), in partnership with the Youth Department of the Council of Europe took place between 13th and 20th November 2016 in the European Youth Centre Strasbourg, France. During the week-long study session 25 participants from 15 countries were engaged in learning how to create inclusive child and youth organisations, focusing on disability rights and children’s rights.
The study session was a success and we share with you two articles written by participants from the study session – Pavel Novikov from Russia and Brandon Aughton from the United Kingdom.
We hope you will enjoy them and will have a taste of this greatly inclusive and exciting event that happened due to all organizers’ and participants’ efforts!
“What is common between human rights and the world of Harry Potter?”
By Pavel Novikov (Russia)
“It is less than a year after my participation in the European Day of Persons with Disabilities Conference in Brussels. During that conference I met Zara Todd, a disability rights campaigner-activist from the UK and a volunteer of ENIL Youth Network, whose speech made a deep impression on me because Zara managed to vocalise all the thoughts which were in my head at that time. The Conference was also attended by Kamil Goungor from Onafhankelijk Leven (OL), who is doing European Voluntary Service (EVS), which is part of the Erasmus+ Programme, so Kamil shared this life experience. Could I then imagine that I would reunite again with these people?
But I saw them again at the training session “Study session: All in – creating inclusive and empowering spaces for all” held in Strasbourg from 13 to 20 November. I attended as a delegate of IFHOHYP, and I must say that it was the best study session I’ve ever taken part in. The session was conducted by a joint effort of ENIL & IFM-SEI. The main foci of the session were Inclusion, disability rights, children’s rights.
Being a person with a hearing disability and suffering from lack of an accessible environment at work, I was really interested in discussing the accessibility situation for people with hearing loss, and I wanted to understand what we could do to change it. During my previous sessions, I was only getting acquainted with the basics of non-formal education and methods of work for struggling for human rights; but this session inspired me and I was deeply imbued with the ideas of inclusiveness, intersectionality, accessible environment, social model of disability and the rights-based approach to disability. Before that I thought that I should adapt to the situation and environment as no one in my home country would provide me with equal access due to the costs, and this fact made me feel sorry for myself? It was a very strong session, its success was possible thanks to the people who participated in it. The whole week we were one big family and turned our space into a piece of perfect world where everything was different and all were equal, and the theme of the works of J.K Rowling was definitely the theme of this session.
Human rights are like a movie about Harry Potter, because both describe a fantasy world! (c)Bori & Laurie
Yes, that’s right, the ideal is never attainable, and nothing is perfect. But nevertheless, we have to strive towards this ideal. After all, human rights is a very fragile thing, and if you do not support them, then they will fall apart at any moment.
Everyone openly shared their experiences and vision of the situation in their countries, and almost everyone had practically the same problems. It was very interesting to find out the experiences of other people with disabilities (for example, how blind people cope with household tasks). In turn I had the opportunity to inform others about very specific challenges for hard-of-hearing and deaf people and tell what it’s like to be deaf and hard of hearing. And I hope very much that this will help to eliminate barriers in society. I also discovered the value of solidarity. If we are making our organization an accessible environment, it is necessary to make it accessible for everyone, because when all people with disabilities unite in their demands, the state cannot watch idly and will be forced to react. I knew about solidarity before but only after this study session I realized and fully understood it.
Some participants particularly impressed me with their open-minded, creative approach to everything, with e.g. anti-capitalist views and the desire to change the world. And it was very contagious, every day we become more united with each other, and the desire to change the world only grew stronger. As it turned out, except for the organizers, all the participants met for the first time, even if they came from the same country and represented the same organization.
Following the session, ENIL & IFM-SEI has decided to launch a pilot project for cooperation in the UK. We also planned Internet campaign to promote anti-capitalism and inclusion, opened the mini video to participate in #mannequinchallenge, discussed the draft of the new CoE Disability strategy, and most importantly – we made a lot of friends!
I really hope that IFHOHYP & ENIL will also cooperate together and carry out joint projects. All the organizers, I thank you for the super study session. And I send warm greetings to all my colleagues! It was a real fairy tale for all of us. I miss you and I hope that we will be able to achieve all our aims and to fulfill all our desires! Let’s mobilise!”
“Strasbourg Study Session 2016”
By Brandon Aughton (UK)
“My name is Brandon Lee Aughton; I am a member of the organization ALLFIE (Alliance For Inclusive Education). I have just returned from a seven day conference on inclusion at the European Youth Centre Strasbourg, France. Before going I didn’t know what to expect so couldn’t really research anything but I found that everything was explained in detail. It really helped that a lot of the work was group work so we were able to share ideas and see things from various perspectives. During the week we covered a wide range of topics regarding inclusion from LGBT+ (Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Non-Binary) , to planning and creating the early stages of projects which we will progress into websites back home. For me, it gave me the opportunity to find out more about new groups such as Woodcraft.uk. , which is a nationwide organization with activities and camps designed to build confidence in disabled and non-disabled children and young people.
Overall, it was a once in a lifetime opportunity to meet new people and I was certainly well educated on new areas surrounding inclusion. I would recommend the Study Session to future and everything is adapted to your needs.”
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