The European conference of self-advocates: Listen to what we have to say!

The 3rd conference of the European Platform of Self-Advocates (EPSA) took place this weekend in Zagreb. Over 130 self-advocates and supporters from 20 countries joined in to claim the rights of persons with intellectual disabilities as equal citizens of their countries.

The European conference of self-advocates: Listen to what we have to say!
etrMore than 160 self-advocates and supporters
were in the meeting. 

They talked about their rights as citizens of their countries.

For example, they talked about the right to:

  • live independently
  • start a family
  • be treated fairly
  • to make choices about their lives.

They also took part in workshops like dancing,
theatre, writing or judo.
You can see the photos from the meeting on this link: www.flickr.com/inclusioneurope

The 3rd conference of the European Platform of Self-Advocates (EPSA) took place this weekend in Zagreb. Over 130 self-advocates and supporters from 20 countries joined in to claim the rights of persons with intellectual disabilities as equal citizens of their countries.

Entitled ‘Hear our voices: Citizens first!’, the conference was organised to mark the European Year of Citizens and highlight the difficulties encountered by persons with intellectual disabilities when exercising their citizenship rights.

The European Platform of Self-Advocates (EPSA) organised the conference in collaboration with Inclusion Europe and the Croatian Association for Self-Advocacy which currently holds EPSA presidency.

Nine thematic workshops provided self-advocates with an opportunity to discuss their life experiences in different areas.

The workshop by ‘Listen Believe Do Something’ team led by Samantha Flood provided participants with the possibility to discuss different forms of abuse persons with intellectual disabilities can potentially be exposed to and what action they can take to prevent or stop such maltreatment. The workshop was based on the results of a research project ‘Looking into abuse’ carried out by persons with intellectual disabilities in the UK.

The workshop on the right to start a family attracted a lot of interest among the participants. It was run by Ciara Lawrence, Mencap’s Campaign Assistant and EPSA steering group member. ‘People with a learning disability should have the right to get married if they want to; she tweeted from Zagreb. ‘The UN CRPD says that no child should be separated from its parents because of a disability of the parent’ she added.

Living in the community is a key issue for persons with intellectual disabilities. The EPSA Chair Senada Halilcevic brought together self-advocates in two consecutive workshops to discuss their own experiences with independent living. Many self-advocates attending the conference had personal experience of living in institutions. During the conference, we heard how they fought their way back into the community and how their lives have changed.

People with intellectual disabilities want to live like anyone else. The workshop ‘Take down the walls!’ led by Corinne Clermont from French national self-advocacy organisation Nous Aussi provided self-advocates with an ample space for exchange of ideas and real-life experiences.

Other workshops dealt with transition from school to life, legal capacity, discrimination, self-advocacy and other issues of high relevance for persons with intellectual disabilities all over Europe.

Five expression workshops provided participants with an excellent opportunity to express their ideas through dancing, theatre and creative writing or try out martial arts.

The conference concluded with the General Meeting of the European Platform of Self-Advocates where new members of the steering group were accepted: Luminita Caldaras from Pentru Voi self-advocacy group and Elisabeta Moldovan from Ceva de Spus.

Photos from the conference are available at www.flickr.com/inclusioneurope

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