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> 2013-05-09 10:42:17
Marking Europe Day: Think Different, Think Europe
(Vatican Radio) Vatican Radio studios were proud to host a conference this week associated with the Europe for Citizenship program for the EU. Entitled “Think Different, Think Europe”, the project brought together young citizens from different EU countries who have Down Syndrome. The conference concludes on May 9th, the day designated to celebrate the European Union.
Together, through the help of interpreters, they discussed the challenges that face people with Down Syndrome in their home nations but also on a wider EU level. What emerged from the debate was the sense that greater awareness needs to be raised among society at large about Down Syndrome, and what people affected by it – to varying degrees – can do.
One issue of particular importance to these young people, who ranged in age from 19 to 26, was their right to active participation in the social and political life and future of their countries. On the back of the first project “My Opinion My Vote”, many young men and women with Down Syndrome have taken concrete steps to raise awareness and get action on accessibility to the vote for people with Down Syndrome in their home countries. Steps that included lobbying government and civil society representatives.
In short, the project is about making sure that their voices are heard, understood and respected. It’s about building bridges between people with Down Syndrome across the EU and with wider society.
That’s what Emer McCarthy learned when she spoke to four young people from Ireland who are taking part in the project: Niamh Fortune from Dublin; Katie Troy from Offaly; Cathal Griffin from Kerry and Declan Murphy from Waterford; accompanied by Grainne Murphy Director of Policy, Ethics and Independence at Down Syndrome Ireland and May Gannon Counselor at Down Syndrome Ireland. Listen: