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Disabilities, Italy at the United Nations: breaking down barriers through sport and culture as a universal means of inclusion.

New York, 15 June 2022. The 15th Session of the Conference of States Parties to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities kicked off yesterday at the UN Headquarters. Today Italy will launch an event, organized by the Permanent Mission of Italy to the UN, together with UNICEF and UNDESA (UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs) and in collaboration with Albania, Monaco, Qatar and South Africa.

The side-event, dedicated to the role of sport and culture in building inclusive societies for persons with disabilities in the post-COVID-19 era, will feature a number of sector NGOs, among which the Italian “Progetto Filippide” (dedicated to sports programs for persons with autism) and “Teatro Patologico” (specializing in theater-therapy), which are already known in New York owing to their longstanding collaborations with UNDESA and other UN entities.

“Italy is always at the forefront in the promotion of the rights of persons with disabilities. Their active participation and social inclusion are the focus of our international agenda in the field of human rights and development cooperation, to guarantee that ‘no one is left behind’ as the UN’s 2030 Agenda asks of us,” as much was stated by Permanent Representative of Italy to the UN, Maurizio Massari. “We strongly believe in a change of paradigm on disability promoted by the UN Convention: moving from an approach based on medical treatment, to a broader one based on human rights”, the Ambassador went on to underscore.

Full participation in social, cultural and economic life is still impeded by the persistence of physical, cultural, and information barriers, with the pandemic compounding the situation: the restrictions adopted globally have had a particularly strong impact on persons with disabilities. For this reason, the event puts a spotlight on the contribution of civil society organizations to the planning and implementation of strategies of inclusion, sharing lessons learned and success stories with a focus on sport and theater as vehicles of inclusion in the community. Sport and culture are, in effect, a means by which to obtain peace, inclusion, social cohesion and democracy.

The event does not forego references to the consequences of the war in Ukraine: the NGO-Progetto Filippide will highlight its recent work assisting Ukrainian children refugees affected by autism. The International Disability Alliance, the most internationally renowned NGO in the field, will offer the concluding remarks of the event.