Harnessing The Power Of Partnerships With Children And Adolescents With Disabilities: Insights Into Successful Transitions To Adulthood

Side-Event of the Conference of State Parties to the CRPD

Harnessing The Power Of Partnerships With Children And Adolescents With Disabilities: Insights Into Successful Transitions To Adulthood

September 13th 2012 from 6:15pm – 7:30pm

Conference Room E

Co-Sponsors: World Enabled, UNICEF, Lenard Chesire Disability, Silicon Valley Independent Living Center (SVILC)


This side-session showcases practical aspects, best practices and the way forward in ensuring the effective integration of youth with disabilities at all pertinent levels of decision making. The session opens with statements by youth advocates from the African Youth with Disabilities Network and the University of California Berkeley speaking about partnerships, the need to focus on youth empowerment, and a review of the current state of research regarding the employment of young persons with disabilities followed by a panel.


There is now fuller understanding that it is not the physical limitations of persons with disabilities, but rather the policies, laws and rules of society that create inequalities. Inherent in this new concept is the understanding that the voices of persons with disabilities must be heard. In order to ensure this, civil society, international organizations, and States Parties to the Convention meet every year in accordance with Article 40, which stipulates “the States Parties shall meet regularly in a Conference of States Parties in order to consider any matter with regard to the implementation of the present Convention.” Since 2008, four sessions of the Conference of States Parties (CoSP) have been held at the United Nations Headquarters, New York. The theme of the fifth session is “Making the CRPD count for Women and Children”, and the sub themes are: “children with disabilities”, “accessibility and technology”, “interactive dialogue”. This side session will be held with partners working in the field and will serve as a forum to extend discourse in preparation for the role of children and adolescents with disabilities in the 2013 High Level Meeting on Disability and UNICEF’s Global Partnership on Children with Disabilities. The CRPD is calling upon children and adolescents with disabilities to challenge their invisibility and become a major influence policies and practices on both youth and disability policy.

Focus on transitions:

Youth—conceptualized as the life cycle point wherein young men and women transition from childhood to adulthood, access to education and employment, and dependency to independence—are implicit in this theme and each sub theme. For example, a focus on children with disabilities must include a discussion on how best to prepare children to successfully transition into adulthood.  Each sub theme may have implications for the ways in which children and adolescents with disabilities are affected as policies and practices concerning international cooperation, political and civil participation, interactive dialogue and accessibility are sue to impact young women and men with disabilities differently than young children or older adults.  Youth with disabilities (YWDs) played an important and active role in discussions leading up to the drafting of the CRPD. Consequently, today the CPRD acts as an opportunity for CWD to become fully included in society. However, this potential will only be fulfilled if the voices of CWD are included in processes governing the interpretation and implementation of the CRPD.

Concept and Objectives:

The United Nations (UN) recognizes that young people are key stakeholders that offer new ideas and energy. One of the key messages of the International Year of Youth was that young people are key partners for development; and youth with disabilities are no exception.  The goals of the session are as follows:

* Identify who youth with disabilities are as a group, their specific needs and strengths, and where they currently fit into the disability rights and development agenda.

* Share the experiences, talents and vision of youth with disabilities and feature specific examples of activities and campaigns they have undertaken with State Parties.

* Highlight sustainable programs that empower child and adolescent advocates with disabilities and show how to effectively adolescents with disabilities can develop agency and autonomy through contributing to disability development agendas.

* Mobilize cross-sectoral (public, private, civil society) efforts towards protecting, promoting and ensuring the CRPD through a focus on youth with disabilities.

* Identity the current state of research on youth with disabilities successful transition into employment and the need for more information.

Young advocates with disabilities:

Ben Perez, 22, Former President of Disabled Student’s Union; President, Berkeley Student Cooperative, Junior in Political Economy at the University of California Berkeley.

Nora Groce, Director and Chair of the Leonard Cheshire Disability and Inclusive Development Centre; Gopal Mitra, Disability Unit, UNICEF, UNICEF’s experience on children and adolescents with disabilities on collaborations across sectors to strengthen networks of children and adolescents with disabilities; Valerie Karr and Stephen Meyers, World Enabled/Pineda Foundation for Youth; Sarah Triano, Silicon Valley Independent Living Center, will speak about efforts to empower youth with disabilities to embrace a disability identity and participate locally in civic and political affairs.

The side-event will allow 30-45 minutes to Questions & Answers between the audience and the panelists and could then close on an artistic performance.  Suggested Audience: The event will be open to civil society with temporary passes as well as Member States and UN cardholders.


One thought on “Harnessing The Power Of Partnerships With Children And Adolescents With Disabilities: Insights Into Successful Transitions To Adulthood

Leave a Reply