Sharing our learning with the world
Last week, I had the opportunity to represent ENABLE Scotland at the Inclusion International World Congress in Birmingham.
This global event was attended by more than 1,000 delegates from 71 countries, and I was one of more than 400 self-advocates speaking up for people who have learning disabilities.
It was great to join my National ACE colleagues John Feehan and Heather Gilchrist in Birmingham, and I really enjoyed getting to spend time with them and with ENABLE Scotland staff in a more relaxed setting than usual.
The talks and workshop sessions were really fascinating, and it highlighted how people with learning disabilities can work together across borders to campaign for change on the issues that affect us all.
It was great to hear from people who have learning disabilities from lots of different countries and to talk to them about the similar experiences we have, as well as where some countries are doing things better than others.
For example, it seemed that Scotland has a really good record of promoting inclusion in the community compared to other countries, but we are not doing as well as countries like Germany when it comes to training staff in schools, workplaces, shops and leisure settings to understand learning disability and ensure spaces are truly inclusive.
ENABLE Scotland’s Executive Director of External Affairs, Jan Savage, was presenting in one of the workshops on how our #BeTheChange campaign seeks to tackle bullying and hate crime against people who have learning disabilities in Scotland, and I got the chance to talk about my experience as a Change Champion alongside Heather and John.
I also enjoyed helping out at the ENABLE Scotland stand in the exhibition hall, and I really think we were one of the biggest attractions in the whole space, with lots of people from all over the world coming to speak to us about our work!
In fact, our ENABLE Scotland tartan bags quickly became the must-have accessory of the Congress, and were so popular we had to get more sent down to meet demand!
We met so many people at the stand, and I was able to help someone from Uganda to connect with organisations in Scotland that work on the same issues she wants to change in her country.
And because I speak German, I was able to help delegates from German-speaking countries who wanted to chat with us at our stand or who needed a bit of help understanding the presentations in English.
It was a fantastic experience to socialise with and learn from people from all over the world, sharing our knowledge and experience from a range of perspectives.
I’m looking forward to bringing what I learned back to my local ACE group and to National ACE to help inform ENABLE Scotland’s campaigning for an equal society for every person who has a learning disability.
Lisa Kerr is a member of National ACE and ENABLE Scotland’s Scottish Council, and is a Change Champion.