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Piotr Pawlowski is pioneering Poland’s first serious disability mainstreaming and public education effort by running workshops in secondary schools, targeted at teenagers and educators. Furthermore he is setting up the country’s first resource center for newly disabled people and has started a national campaign for the prevention of spinal cord injuries.
There are approximately 150,000 people confined to wheelchairs in Poland, and every year between 1,600 and 1,800 incidents of spinal trauma result in permanent damage to motor skills. Like other physically challenged people in Poland, these individuals find little support or understanding from mainstream Polish society. Indeed, many face discrimination in education, work and housing. Disabled people who manage to acquire an education often find it difficult to secure meaningful employment. Overall, disabled Poles are isolated and are not allowed to realize their enormous potential contributions to Polish society.
There are several operating Information Centers for the Disabled in major cities in Poland. 200 000 people visit monthly the internet portal with information on disabilities. Several national media campaigns have been launched, spots in cinemas and TV. Enormous effort to influence disabled themselves – from passive recipients of state aid, to active citizens. 4000 people on an annual basis avail from info phone line with regards to job placements for people with disabilities. 50 000 copies of Integration magazine that is distributed across Poland. Piotr’s activities led to the adaptation (according to the WCAG 2.0 standard) over 400 web sites, as well The Chancellery of the Prime Minister. He acted to eliminate architectural barriers in over 700 buildings, including the Parliament of the Republic of Poland.
Since 1994 Piotr Pawłowski has been pioneering serious disability mainstreaming and public education effort in Poland. He began his activity with structured workshops by preparing professional educational programmes “Sensitivity to disability” for thousands of schools in Poland. In order to increase accessibility for newly disabled and their families, Piotr has set up the information platform ( internet portal, Integration magazine, TV program, hotline). He drew up the comprehensive program of the vocational activation, worked on adaptation of institutions and facilities to the needs of disabled people by giving them access to the www.services. Piotr is a member of the most powerful government and social organizations in Poland. He is pioneering Poland’s first serious disability representation Coalition for Persons with Disability as well as the author of the biggest community campaigns in the country.
Integracja aims to improve the quality of life of people with disabilities in Poland. The expected impact is a diffusion of awareness of full integrated society. Moreover Integracja develops a brand that represents the idea of inclusion of disabled people – called LABEL. The certification label e.g. “disabled friendly” will be the head of the idea carried inside and will be a medium of its replication and adoption. Certification label will be given to every product, organization, website etc. which will go through the certification process and comply with all the requirements. Widely spreading the „Label” is what building „awareness” means, and is, therefore, a very powerful tool.
Piotr has been in a wheelchair since a diving accident at the age of sixteen. At the time of his accident, he was a promising basketball player, as well as an active school organizer. After his accident he felt isolated and stigmatized. He recognized that separate does not mean equal. Piotr was spearheading an effort to mainstream disabled Poles by giving them access to the same education facilities that their nondisabled peers have. Despite being confined to wheelchair and having only partial use of one hand, Piotr has always remained positive according to Konfucjusz “The biggest warrior is the one who defeated himself! “He has never let his disability stop him from achieving his goals, including completing his university education.