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A few weeks ago I received an email from Dr Leda Kamenopoulou, a Senior Lecturer in Special and Inclusive Education at the University of Roehampton in London and a Fellow of the UK Higher Education Academy. The email was an invitation to deliver a talk at the Centre for Interdisciplinary Research on Special and Inclusive Education (CIRSIE), School of Education, University of Roehampton, to present GLOBI’s #DrawDisability campaign.
As an alumni of the University of Roehampton, I was honoured by the invitation and excited to share the successes of #DrawDisability with academic staff and students. I accepted the invitation and on Wednesday 9th November 2016 I delivered a presentation titled “#DrawDisability: how children and youth worldwide see disability“.
At the beginning of my talk I explained that #DrawDisability is a global campaign launched by the Global Observatory for Inclusion (GLOBI), the United Nations Secretary-General’s Global Education First Initiative (GEFI) and the United Nations Global Education First Initiative Youth Advocacy Group (GEFI-YAG), in collaboration with over 20 national and international organisations.
After a brief introduction, I presented the #DrawDisability accessible video teaser of the #DrawDisability campaign:
In my talk I then explained the three-fold nature of the #DrawDisability campaign, which was designed to be:
Following the launch of the campaign on December 3rd, 2014, on the occasion of the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, we invited teachers from around the globe to use the #DrawDisability Guidelines to promote awareness on disability within their classrooms. At the same time, we invited children and youth with and without disabilities worldwide to express their thoughts and feelings on disability and inclusion by drawing. In the following eight months, 3,000 artworks were submitted to #DrawDisability from 50 different countries, contributing to the creating of a truly magnificent global art online museum on children and youth’s perspectives on disability and inclusion.
Besides celebrating the immense creativity of children and young people, the #DrawDisability drawings convey extremely important messages on tolerance, inclusion, accessibility and participation in society. While a minority of artworks conveys negative messages, in which disability is portrayed as a burden, the vast majority of drawings has positive connotations: children and youth, in fact, understand that disability is just part of human diversity. Even within this group of positive drawings, however, some reflect a charitable approach – let’s help people with disabilities –, while others advocate for disability inclusion from a human rights angle.
While a minority of artworks conveys negative messages, in which disability is portrayed as a burden, the vast majority of drawings has positive connotations: children and youth, in fact, understand that disability is just part of human diversity.
The insights and perspectives that these drawings can offer are hugely important, as they show that children and youth with and without disabilities can truly be active citizens and advocate for the rights of the most marginalised.
It for this reason that, as part of our advocacy strategy, we created the #DrawDisability Exhibition. In May 2015 we presented it at the World Education Forum in Incheon (Republic of Korea), and one month later we brought it to the UNICEF Headquarters in New York (USA) on the occasion of the Conference of States Parties to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (COSP-CRPD). And in December 2015, on the occasion of the International Day of Persons with Disabilities 2015, we organised the #DrawDisability Exhibition along with the Round Table Discussion “Leave No One Behind: Continuing Conversations on Inclusive Education” at the United Nations Headquarters in New York (USA).
If you want to know more about the #DrawDisability campaign you can visit the project page and you can watch my TEDx talk at TEDxCrocetta:
If you are interested in hosting or sponsoring a #DrawDisability presentation or the #DrawDisability Exhibition, please send an email to email@example.com.
Andrea Pregel is an inclusion professional with experience in disability, development, education, gender and health across Europe and Asia. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in Sociology and Social Research from the University of Turin (Italy), and an Erasmus Mundus MA/Mgr in Special and Inclusive Education from the University of Roehampton in London (UK), the University of Oslo (Norway) and Charles University in Prague (Czech Republic). He is Co-founder and President of the Global Observatory for Inclusion (GLOBI), and works as Programme Advisor for Social Inclusion and Disability at Sightsavers International.