Disabled children not admitted to summer camps: this is a violation of human rights (14/06/2022)

“The fact that some children with disabilities or special needs are banned from going to municipal, parish and sports summer centers is a violation of human rights”: he says it clearly Giovanni Merlo, Director of the LEDHA League for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. “It is a problem that we have been reporting for several years (even before the pandemic), but which has exploded this year.”

Over the past few weeks, the Franco Bomprezzo Center for LEDHA has received 20% more reports of families who have been denied access to the summer camp for their children with disabilities. The most common situation is primarily about the practice of asking parents to pay an extra contribution to the tuition in order to benefit from the specialized support assistant, where this figure is necessary for the child to ensure adequate attendance at the center. (In this article, we talked about some good practices).

Merlo, why does this represent a violation of human rights?
Act 67 of 2006 establishes the right of persons living with a state of physical, mental or sensory disability, stabilized or progressive, not to be discriminated against and promotes equal treatment and equal opportunities for people with disabilities. In the contexts we are talking about, there is obvious discrimination. In fact, the widespread practice of delegating this task to the families themselves is illegitimate.

Should summer camps give everyone the opportunity to participate?
Exactly. Both public and private summer camps (municipalities, parishes, sports centers) must include access for children with disabilities in their programming. If they do not, they are mistaken, both legally and formally. But especially on the personal level.

What do you mean?
What I regret most is that those who ban or restrict their participation are not aware of how much harm it does to a family and a disabled child or boy to be told: “no, there is no room for you “,” you can not come “,” you can not play with us “in a place of play and integration, which is crucial to allow a real inclusion of children with disabilities.

What are the most commonly given causes?
There are cases where the administrative bodies (both public and private) propose reduced participation and even a priori exclusion of some children with disabilities due to inadequate or inaccessible spaces where the activities take place; or for generic “security issues”. There are those who request that the family pay a professional educator, and there are those who charge an increased enrollment fee.
There are those who accept the child but then ghettoize it.

Can you give an example?
This happened, for example, for a minor with a disability residing in a municipality on the outskirts of Milan, who was denied the opportunity to participate in the summer camp due to the “inconvenience” associated with the extension of the structure used. An exclusion that the municipality has tried to remedy by proposing the family to place the minor in a separate group consisting only of minors with disabilities, without, however, giving any guarantee of complete and equal attendance at the center and thus committing a further discrimination by providing a “special class”.

What can families do to get their sons and daughters recognized for the right to inclusion?
They can report these incidents to our anti-discrimination center. In addition, we have published on our website a legal form addressed to families and a fax of a letter that parents can write directly to the administrative bodies of public or private leisure services.

And in the meantime?
The administrations’ response may not be timely: we are aware of this. In this case, we offer free legal advice (to those who, after sending the letter, want to continue legally. (Email to antidiscrimination@ledha.it). Discriminatory practices, and we are committed to raising the awareness of families and leaders .

From this page you can download:
• Facsimile of letter to the Municipality
• Facsimile of letters to private governing bodies

Top photo, Raphaël B Caldo by Unsplash

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