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Poland: Celebrating International day for the disabled

2 Dicembre Dic 2007 0100 02 dicembre 2007

Great gala of integration, an event to celebrate the international day for people with disabilities, a huge success all round. Guest of honour Donald Tusk

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Great gala of integration, an event to celebrate the international day for people with disabilities, a huge success all round. Guest of honour Donald Tusk

More than two thousand people attented the 13th Great gala of integration that took place in one of Poland?s largest and most elegant concert halls to celebrate the international day for people with disabilities. The Gala is celebrated every year on the closest Saturday to the 3rd of December, that marks the day that is dedicated to those who have disabilities, especially physical disabilities. . The name of the event is taken from its organizers, the Integration Association, a leading Polish nonprofit that works with the disabled. "Integration" also summarizes the organization?s mission and the event?s main theme.

The Gala was conducted by Piotr Pawłowski, founder and president of the Integration Association, together with Beata Wachowiak-Zwara, the plenipotentiary president of Gdynia for People with Disabilities. Both on wheelchairs.

The president's promise
The Gala was formally opened by newly elected Polish prime minister, Donald Tusk, who later participated with a wheelchair-bound member of the Polish Parliament as well as the Government plenipotentiary for people with disabilities in a discussion led by Piotr Pawłowski. The discussion concerned the situation of people with disabilities in Poland. Donald Tusk renewed the promise made a week ago in his expose at the Polish Parliament, to work to make the lives of people with disabilities easier and more dignified.

Afterwards there were similar talks with several local government representatives who highlighted the challenges and achievements they had faced and achieved in attempting to make public institutions more accessible to people with disabilities.

No more barriers awards
An important part of the Gala was the award giving ceremony, where prizes were given to those who had come up with exemplary solutions for people with disabilities.

It was the fourth time that prizes were awarded in the ?Warsaw without barriers? contest to owners of disabled-friendly buildings. The prizes in the ?Open Eyes? contest, on the other hand, went to journalists who bring up disability in their work and who encourage dialogue about the problems that the disabled face in society.

Finally, the Integration Association awarded ?Friends of Integration? medals. The medals, for the eleventh time, went to those people who, out of the goodness of their heart, work for the social integration of the disabled. Although the Integration Association focuses on people on wheel chairs, ?Friends of Integration? medals go to individuals and institutions that help people with any kind of a disability. This year, for example, one of the medals was received by Krystyna Janda, an actress who for many years had been acting in plays about autism. In doing so she wanted to make the viewers more familiar with this problem.

The talks, discussions and distribution of awards were alternated with musical performances by three great singers: Ewa Lewandowska (very talented yet blind young woman), Roberto Bignoli (Italian, one of the most famous Christian singers in the world and who is on crutches) and Justyna Steczkowska (one of Poland?s leading pop singers).

The Gala of Integration took place thanks to the many sponsors as there were no tickets, only invitations and gathered around 2 thousand people, many of whom were people with disabilities.