Feelings of pride, unity and solidarity are still vibrating after 7th Freedom Drive in Brussels; © ENIL
The 7th Freedom Drive was a great success with over 400 persons attending the March and over 200 – the other Freedom Drive events. Many of the national delegations met with their Members of the European Parliament and there are great promises for closer collaboration.
This first Freedom Drive in Brussels was organized by the European Network on Independent Living (ENIL) team with the help of many allies throughout Europe. The hard work has paid off well with many Freedom Drivers expressing the inspiration the Freedom Drive has raised.
The ENIL team members living in different European countries started arriving in Brussels from Sunday, September 27. First stop for all (even before checking in hotels) was the ENIL office on rue l’Industrie 10, where the last Freedom Drive preparations were in full swing! Boxes with t-shirts and printed materials were being carried, transport arrangements were still in process, last-minute technical problems were dealt with and everybody was busy, running and wheeling around!
Bel Brussels with great accessibility hosted the Freedom Drive events starting with the ENIL General Assembly 2015 on Tuesday, September 29. ENIL welcomes the new board and congratulates them for the next term 2015 – 2017– Kapka Panayotova (CIL Sofia, Bulgaria), Paul Fagan (CIL Donegal, Ireland), Debbie Jolly (DPAC, UK), Nadia Hadad (Belgium), Tove Linnea Brandvik (ULOBA, Norway) were reelected and the four new persons – Zara Todd (ENIL Youth Network, UK), Stelios Kimboroupoulous (i-living, Greece), Marina Voudouri (ENIL Italia, Italy) and Maria Dahl (STIL, Sweden). Later that evening Freedom Drivers enjoyed experience exchange – time for informal socialising during the dinner.
Wednesday, September 30, was the day for the March through Brussels to the EU Parliament. Freedom Drive slogans were shouted and the Freedom Drive anthem sung. Maria Luisa Cabral (Head of Unit, Rights of persons with Disabilities, DG Employment, European Commission) met and greeted the Freedom Drivers. Kapka Panayotova (ENIL’s President) gave Mrs. Cabral the ENIL Manifesto and thanked the European Commission for its cooperation with ENIL.
The ENIL Parliament meeting was hosted by MEP Plura (Vice-president of the Disability Intergroup) raising important issues for all disabled people. Active participation from MEPs demonstrated that the issues discussed are important and cooperation is welcomed.
ENIL thanks the city of Brussels for the BEL and the region of Brussels (Ministry of equal rights) for its support of the ENIL celebration dinner. Great food was accompanied by great music. ENIL thanks the STIB and region of Brussels (Ministry of mobility) for its work to organize transport.
Networking, old friends reunited, new friendships made, empowered activists with new ideas for advocating Independent Living are all results of the ENIL Freedom Drive! Next March – September 2017 – keep tuned!
REHACARE.com; Source: European Network on Independent Living