MY OPINION MY VOTE
1ST USERS MEETING, BRUSSELS
(28th January – 1st February)
4 persons with learning disability from each of the 6 participating countries convened in Brussels to test the first units of the Educational Programme. While they were there they also visited the European Parliament and meet with MEP representatives from their own countries, whom they informed about the project and asked about the political rights of persons with learning disability. At the European Commission they had a presentation about the workings of the Commission and the EU strategy on the inclusion of people with disabilities. They also had round table discussions with the European Disability Forum and Inclusion Europe.
Here are some quotes from participants of the Brussels meeting:
”However my experience of going abroad alone was a very good one. It was exciting, meeting new people from different countries and meeting Dr Simon Busuttil… In European Parliament we met Dr Simon Busuttil and asked him questions about the parliament. The next day we met groups from different countries to talk about voting rights. We also had a tour around parliament. It was an interesting visit and I am looking forward to going abroad again with my friends.”
Maria Zarb, Malta
“I have gone to Bruxelles in order to have a new experience, go into politics as a disabled person.”
“We have met a person who had spoken about people with disabilities, she said that people with disabilities had the right to work, to vote and to manage their salary.”
This project is relevant for me, because…
“It helps to understand more about politics.”
“It hints people that their sons and daughters have the right to vote.”
“It conveys people from other countries who has the same difficulties to exercise the right to vote.”
“It opens our future as adult”
“It helps us to share and to support our opinions.”
/thoughts from the Italien group/
“We went on Wednesday January 28th by plane from Dublin to Brussels. When we arrived we met Mairead McGuinness, a member of European Parliament. She talked to us for a few minutes and we had our photos taken with her. We had just a few minutes with her because we had to do a presentation on our country. We needed to tell others about Ireland. There were six countries at the course, Ireland, Malta, Spain, Denmark, Italy and Hungary. We heard about their countries too.
We visited the European Parliament and the European Commission. We had lunch at the canteen in the Parliament. It was packed with people who work for the parliament and the commission. We learned about voting and it was fun. I have already voted in our elections.
We talked about different countries in the European Union. We learned about the European anthem, and the flags from the different countries. Each night we went for dinner with the people from other countries and the leaders helped us to understand what the people were saying who didn’t speak English.”
Michael Gannon, Ireland
“Today Tina, Henriette, Hans Jørgen and Bettina are going to Brussels. After that we went to have lunch and then went to the European Parliament. There we met with a Danish politician, whose name is Ole Christensen. He was good to talk to.
…Today we met at the European Parliament. We should also talk about what we thought was good and bad about the project. We went to have lunch in the Parliament’s canteen. It’s big. After lunch someone told us about what it’s like to be a part of a disability council in Europe.”
Bettina Deublein and Hans Jørgen Andersen, Denmark
Breaking news of the MOTE project
On the 1st April, Paola Vulterini and Grainne Murphy meet with three of the European political groups and showed them the drafts of the easy read manifestos that had been prepared by Grainne Murphy and Louisa Grech. They also addressed the government representatives of all the 27 member states and main European NGOs on the situation of the voting rights of people with learning disability in each of the participating countries in the project. Inclusion Europe agreed to disseminate the brochures produced by MOTE.
Ireland– Twenty participants from Ireland met in Galway on the 20th April 2009 to complete the first training unit of the educational programme. This compliments the training in preparation for the 10th World Down Syndrome Congress (WDSC) to be held in Dublin in August 2009. The WDSC will host the first ever „Synod of people with Down syndrome” where persons with Down syndrome will be able to discuss in an open forum the issues of employment opportunities, their rights as citizens and living with Down syndrome in their communities.
In Hungary the MOTE awareness campaign started with participation in 2 significant public events where professionals, users, facilitators and the press were invited (Civiliáda 2009, Egyenlítő). Brochures were distributed to all who were interested in the MOTE project and the political participation of persons with learning disability.
Down Foundation also launched a training programme for local municipalities preparing officers to work with people learning disablities on civic and political knowledge.
Italy– On March 20th , on the occasion of the World Down Syndrome Day, AIPD celebrated all its international projects. During this event MOTE brochures were distributed to all participants and a power-point with the aims, objectives and results of the project was presented by Giovanni and Carlotta. Catiuscia Marini, the Italian MEP in Brussels, took part with a speech about the project.