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Who would have thought that the three cubes with drawings stationed near the entrance of the World Education Forum venue would bring powerful messages on disability and inclusive education? And who would have thought that these drawings are made by children and young people with and without disabilities from around the world?
The #DrawDisability campaign had its first international exhibition at the World Education Forum 2015 on May 18-21, 2015 in Incheon, South Korea. This was part of #DrawDisability’s thrust of raising the awareness of the global community about disability and inclusive education.
The exhibition was not an ordinary exhibition, I must say. In a major international conference where a lot of events and exhibitions happened at the same time, we had to ensure that #DrawDisability had a creative and innovative presentation to encourage people to visit and take a look. And the idea of putting the drawings on cubes was conceptualized. Basically, there were three big cubes. Each cube’s side had drawings of children coming from different countries around the world. The drawings had the names of the children, their age, countries, and descriptions. It was the descriptions that provided meanings to the artworks. They gave the viewers the opportunity to understand the essential messages that children wanted to present through their drawings.
The exhibition was not an ordinary exhibition.
But what impact did the #DrawDisability exhibition provide to the whole World Education Forum?
I got the chance to randomly talk with people who visited the exhibition. And it was interesting to listen to their reflections after viewing the children’s drawings. A Korean delegate shared, ‘I feel the authenticity of the drawings especially that they are made by children. I took a lot of photos earlier so I have something to share to my students about disability’. Another visitor intoned, ‘Looking at the drawings made me realize that there really is a big need for the disability sector to be heard especially that they have been marginalized in the society’.
I feel the authenticity of the drawings especially that they are made by children.
The #DrawDisability exhibition provided a space for children and young people with and without disabilities to make their voices heard that Persons with Disabilities indeed have the fundamental human right to access quality and inclusive education. It exemplified the role of children and young people as active global citizens especially that most of their drawings spoke a lot about access to education of Persons with Disabilities. In addition, I must say that the #DrawDisability exhibition complemented the efforts of the international community at the forum to ensure that disability becomes a priority within the education agenda. The exhibition provided a space for people to understand more what ‘quality and inclusive education’ in the education agenda means through visual arts.
Most of the drawings spoke a lot about access to education of children and young people with disabilities.
When people and organizations started to visit the exhibition, expressions of support and collaboration for the #DrawDisability campaign took place. I was personally honored to see Kailash Satyarthi, the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, and Irina Bokova, UNESCO Director-General, expressing their strong support for the campaign. Some of the campaign’s partners such as Educate A Child, Women Thrive, and Inter-Agency Network for Education (INEE) took the time out to visit the exhibition and show their strong continued support. This clearly exemplifies that the #DrawDisability exhibition has become instrumental in creating a bridge between children and young people, and world leaders.
The #DrawDisability exhibition has become instrumental in creating a bridge between children and young people, and world leaders.
Since its launch, the #DrawDisability campaign had a huge impact in the local, national, and international contexts. It has changed a lot of lives and will continue to do so.
The #DrawDisability campaign is a concrete manifestation on how important creative advocacies are in advancing the right to education of the marginalized groups, especially those with disabilities. For as long as the community still has prevailing negative attitude towards disability, the push for inclusive education will never progress.
For as long as the community still has prevailing negative attitude towards disability, the push for inclusive education will never progress.
The #DrawDisability campaign will have its second international exhibition on June 9-11, 2015 during the Conference of State Parties of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in New York City, New York, USA. This is another opportunity for the campaign to gain more momentum in ensuring the advancement of the right to education of Persons with Disabilities
[Photos: © Rolando Jr Villamero]