The study session jointly organized by ENIL and the Council of Europe had the title “Active citizenship and political participation of young disabled people as a pathway towards Independent Living” and took place between 24th June and 1st July 2018, in the European Youth Centre in Strasbourg, France.

The overall aim of the study session was to raise awareness among young disabled people about their rights concerning active citizenship and political participation, in the context of their social inclusion and Independent Living. The study session also aimed to promote leadership and empowerment among young disabled people – skills that would help them realise their rights. 

Participants from 13 countries had the opportunity to gain a better understanding of political participation and independent living, and acquire skills to promote the rights of other young disabled people in their networks.  Afterwards, they were expected to act as multipliers in their communities to support the development of other young disabled people’s understanding of their rights with regards to their active citizenship and political participation.

The content of the study session fitted into the Council of Europe’s ethos – Human Rights, Democracy and the Rule of Law. Sessions included: introducing the concept of Independent Living, how personal experiences are political issues, development of campaigns and advocacy skills, establishing multi-level networks of support, and strategy planning to improve disabled people’s political participation within member states.

Advocacy plans have been developed by participants using all information received during the Study Session, around the following issues: political participation and legal changes, education, employment and accessibility. Furthermore, participants have proposed to replicate the session at a local level, by adapting training materials and hand-outs to local context. Participants were also able to exchange best practices and lessons learnt in terms of advocating for various causes at national level.

In terms of the follow-up activities, ENIL Youth Network has established 6 task groups available for youth members to participate in according to their interests. Task groups are covering following interest areas: independent living; employment; sexuality & relationships; education; political participation and mental health. Participants of the study session were contacted after the study session and encouraged to participate. Furthermore, ENIL Youth is in the process of creating an online library with different resources in the working areas of ENIL, which will comprise of uploaded relevant publications, e-books and other resources and will provide access to it to the members of the study session.

The session was delivered by a group of young disabled people from the ENIL Youth Network – Rados Keravica (Serbia), Elena Ratoi (Moldova), Charlie Willis (UK), Miro Griffiths (UK) and Dilyana Deneva (Bulgaria) – all having experience in working with young people in their countries and internationally. Stefan Manevski was the study session’s educational advisor.  The team invited an eternal speaker – Professor Angharad Beckett from the University of Leeds.