Laura Panetta, International Inclusion Advocate, age 7

Isn’t the universe cool? Recently here at Kids Included Together, we were notified that we have been granted special consultative status to the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations. This makes us part of a select group of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) that can contribute to information dissemination, awareness, policy advocacy, and development education, and we can contribute our technical expertise on an international level. We are pretty excited about this opportunity that will help us get closer to our vision: a world where children of all abilities are welcomed and accepted in their communities.

Here’s the cool part – the same day I received this special letter, I also came across a beautiful depiction of inclusion drawn by a 7-year old inclusion advocate named Laura. I found out that she drew the picture on a plane, on the way home from Geneva, where she was testifying at the United Nations as part of the discussion of Article 24 of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. I am told (by Laura’s mom) that 7-year olds are not the typical speakers at these events. Wanting to know about the UN hearings, I asked Laura if she would write a blog post about her experience there, so that I could learn from her. I can’t resist posting the actual writing she did, but since it’s not accessible that way, I am also transcribing it below the image.

I am grateful to Laura for sharing her experience with us, and proud of her for speaking in a foreign country (in front of a bunch of adults) and speaking her mind about the need to include everyone. I have a feeling that Laura thinks that adults are making this inclusion thing much harder than it needs to be, and I think I would have to agree with her.

~ Torrie Dunlap, CEO, Kids Included Together

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laura at UN

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

United Nations Geneva, Switzerland
By Laura Panetta, 7 years old

My mum and me travelled from Perth, Australia to Milan, Italy and then by train. The train went to Geneva. We went to the United Nations to listen to people talk about the right to learn with everybody else. This is called inclusion in education.

I heard a girl say that not feeling welcome at school was the hardest thing. I also heard a woman say that they lived in four different countries and it was hard to find a school for her daughter. In Switzerland the only option was to send her daughter to a special school because the other schools wouldn’t let her go there. Children with disability should be able to go to the same school as every-body else and learn and play together. The United Nations is an important place where countries decide how to do things better. All countries need to be better at including people with disability.

Laura drawing -2

Laura drew this picture of her and her brother playing with a toy car outside on a sunny day. Julius is 5, has Down syndrome, and wears cool orange glasses. The words in the photo say, “People with disabilities should have a right to be included.”

Kids Included Together (KIT) is a non-profit located in San Diego, CA and Washington, DC. We help make the world a more inclusive place by providing live and online training to people who work with kids. We teach strategies, accommodations and best practices to include kids with and without disabilities in before & after school programs. Inclusive environments create stronger communities. Learn more about our work at www.KITonline.org.

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