4 November 2014 (10.30-12.30) - Room 7 – Palais de l’Europe, Interpretation: FR/EN - Sponsored by the INGO Conference of the Council of Europe


Today, power in democracy often rests in the hands of a few. In an inclusive democracy, however, power at all levels is equally distributed among societal groups. How can youth foster inclusive democratic structures that integrate minorities in the institutions of governance?

Project Unify, Special Olympics, Belgium

Project Unify is a strategy developed by Special Olympics to bring together youth with and without intellectual disabilities through sports, leadership, advocacy and volunteering. The program aims to encourage the acceptance and inclusion of young people with intellectual disabilities, challenge negative attitudes and develop leadership skills among young people. Started in the USA, Project Unify was piloted for 18 months in Europe and India with over 7,000 youths, teachers and coaches trained. Based on the pilot’s success, the Project Unify concept is being expanded and adapted to suit various cultural and/or educational settings in Europe and globally.

Website: http://www.specialolympics.org/projectunify.aspx


Mr David EVANGELISTA, United States, Vice President of Global Development and Government Relations for Special Olympics International

David Evangelista is Vice President of Global Development and Government Relations for Special Olympics International. David directs global development and international cooperation for Special Olympics, including the creation of national and multinational partnerships, UN collaboration strategic development, and corporate and civil society activation in support of individuals with intellectual disabilities. David has a B.A. in International Relations from the School of International Service at American University in Washington, DC and an M.A. in International Business from the Caixanova Escuela de Negocios. He resides in Vigo, Spain, and is fluent in Spanish, English and Italian.

Ms Agnieszka KRUKOWSKA, Poland, Coordinator of Youth, Unified Sports & Research for Special Olympics Europe/Eurasia

Agnieszka Krukowska is Coordinator of Youth, Unified Sports® & Research for Special Olympics Europe/Eurasia (SOEE). After several years of serving as a Special Olympics volunteer and Youth Advisor, she joined the regional staff in 2013. Together with colleagues Agnieszka manages Project Unify® in the region and represents the organization in all aspects related to Youth. She has a Master’s degree in Applied Linguistics from the University of Warsaw and a Master’s degree in European Interdisciplinary Studies from the College of Europe. She is Polish and resides in Brussels, Belgium. 


Discussants are invited to make critical comments during the lab on the impact, transferrability, sustainability and risk of the initiative.

Ms Karin ASTEGGER, Austria, Human Resources, Research & Development at Lebenshilfe Salzburg, Board member of the European Association for Service Providers for Persons with Disability

Karin leads Human resources, Research & Development in her organisation, an Austrian service provider for persons with intellectual disabilities. She has focused on user involvement and inclusive research in Lebenshilfe and international projects. She is member of Board and Policy Impact Group of EASPD. She holds a masters and PhD in psychology, and is licenced as psychotherapist. She worked in research, training, and clinical practice at the University of Salzburg, Austria; since 1997 she has worked in social services.

Ms Monika MACDONAGH-PAJEROVÁ, Czech Republic, Advisor to the Minister of Culture of the Czech Republic, Professor at NYU campus in Prague and Chairperson of YES for Europe

Monika Macdonagh-Pajerová graduated from the Philosophical Faculty of the Charles University in Prague. She was one of the organisers of the 17th of November 1989 student demonstration that started the Velvet Revolution in the then Czechoslovakia, spokesperson of the student striking committee and member of the Civic Forum. After 1990, she served the Ministry of Foreign Affairs as Cultural attaché at the Czech Embassy in Paris, was administrator in the culture committee in the Council of Europe, head of the press department and spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic. Since 2002, she is author and moderator of television and radio programmes about the European Union, founder (with Václav Havel) and Chairperson of the YES for Europe NGO, and professor at the New York University campus in Prague. She was awarded the ‘Ordre de Merit’ of the French Republic for fostering European cooperation.


Mr Jean-Luc SIMON, France, Chair of Disabled Peoples' International, European Region

Jean-Luc Simon started his professional life in 1976 as special educator and as psychiatric nurse. He had a severe car accident in 1983 and then discovered the real living conditions of disabled persons. He then attended a university programme in Social Sciences and came in contact with the disability movement in France in 1989, in Europe in 1991 and in the world in 1992 with Disabled Peoples' International. He joined the Cabinet of the French Minister for Health, Family and Disabled Persons on January 2002 to prepare and coordinate the European Year of People with Disabilities.  Jean-Luc Simon is the Chair of Disabled Peoples' International Europe region since 2005 which is now established in Strasbourg under the local law.