Empowering persons with disabilities through creative energy: ESCAP initiative promotes inclusive and barrier-free society in Thailand

Some 500 children and youth from across Thailand, many with disabilities, assembled at the United Nations Conference Centre in Bangkok, Thailand today, together with national artists, teachers and volunteers for the launch of a UN initiative to promote an inclusive and barrier-free society.

Former Thai Prime Minister, Mr. Anand Panyarachun, inaugurated the “Art for All 2011” campaign organised by the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) which aims to provide children and young persons with disabilities an opportunity to express their creative energy through art and cultural activities, fostering a sense of genuine belonging to the community.

Mr. Shun-ichi Murata, Deputy Executive Secretary of ESCAP, Mr. Khemchat Thepchai, Inspector General of the Ministry of Culture, Thailand and Mr. Channarong Pornrungroj, President of the Art for All Foundation, Thailand were also present.

“The Art for All project is commendable. It brings together children with disabilities and their families from all regions of Thailand to respect and value diversity and harmony, and work together to overcome challenges,” Mr. Panyarachun said. “This is especially relevant for present day Thai society.”

“Art for All is an event that has broken many social barriers,” ESCAP deputy chief Mr. Murata said. “Young persons with disabilities are a valuable resource in our region.”

Today’s launch will be followed by the Art for All Camp under the theme “Celebrating Diversity,” to be held from 14 to 18 July at the Wangree Resort, Nakhon Nayok province of Thailand. At the camp, participants will take part in a wide range of activities, including visual and performing arts aimed at further enhancing their skills and creativity.

Ten per cent of the estimated 400 million persons with disabilities in the Asia-Pacific region are children. Together with countries in the region, ESCAP works towards achieving an inclusive, barrier-free and a rights-based society for all.

In October 2010, ESCAP launched the “Make the Right Real” Regional Campaign to accelerate the ratification and implementation of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, the world’s first disability-specific human rights treaty.

Thailand is among 21 Asia-Pacific countries that have ratified the Convention.