NEW YORK – The invitation of the United Nations to participate in the 14th session of the Conference of States Parties to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) marks a significant honorary distinction for Mrs. Athena Kritikou, Founder & President of SKEP – the Association of Social Responsibility for Children and Youth. The Conference took place at the UN headquarters, in New York, June 15-17. SKEP’s participation in the event was held under the auspices of the Permanent Mission of Greece to the United Nations.
Kritikou, alongside four other internationally distinguished speakers, participated in Roundtable 3, focusing on the “Right to Education: Challenges with Inclusive Education and Accessibility during COVID-19.” Stressing the importance for the establishment of inclusive education at a global level, Kritikou stated: “People with disabilities have constantly been invisible and isolated, even before COVID-19 imposed quarantine, due to prejudice, stigma and discrimination. During this unprecedented reality the entire world has been experiencing a similar state of social exclusion. People felt and realized the effects of being isolated. Now, more than ever, there is a strong momentum for change in attitudes and behavior with the ultimate goal of building a fairer world that leaves no one behind. Systematic and targeted awareness-raising programs in the school context, with the aim of changing students' attitudes towards disability, provide an excellent opportunity for gradually guiding the world to an inclusive mindset.”
Furthermore, Kritikou emphasized that ignorance, stereotyping, and prejudice are deeply rooted beliefs that cannot change in one day, or by one person. This radical reshaping of perceptions on disability can only be achieved through education. To pave the way to inclusive education, it is essential to establish state-run systematic disability awareness educational programs at all levels of the education system, on a national scale.
The UN decision to choose Kritikou to address this issue comes as an important recognition of the Association’s work. SKEP has many years of experience in creating and effectively implementing innovative educational programs in schools, while actively supporting the inclusive education progress in Greece and abroad.
SKEP’s educational programs are officially approved by the Hellenic Ministry of Education and are included among the best-case studies of UNESCO and the European Agency for Special Needs and Inclusive Education.
More information is available online: www.skep.gr and via email: [email protected].