Youth Ability

Youth ability summit



Contact Person(s) and Details Dr. Valerie Karr
Head of Research, World Enabled
Project Youth Ability Summit
Implementing Partners The Pineda Foundation for Youth/World Enabled
Location Damascus, Syria
Date of Project August, 2010
Primary Objective Bringing together American and Syrian youth disability advocates to share their experiences, ideas, and culture and to create strategies promoting the rights of youth with disabilities.
Target Population American and Syrian youth disability advocates


Facts: Syria
(Source: Global Arab Network, 2012)

  • A signatory of the CRPD, Syria has a disabled population ranging between 4-6 percent of the country’s overall population.
  • Before hostilities began in 2011, problems strengthening the disability sector in Syria included, lack of data on persons with disabilities (prevalence, types of disabilities etc.); lack of technical capacity to support persons with disabilities (whether through NGOs or public institutions).
  • Disparities are also reported between governorates (fewest services are available in the eastern part of the country where all development indicators are lower than the national average).
  • Multiple forms of discrimination are prevalent. Discriminations faced by Syrian youth and women with disabilities involve lack of equal protection before the law.

The Project

In August of 2010, a Youth Ability Summit took place in Damascus, Syria bringing together American and Syrian youth disability advocates to share their experiences, ideas, and culture and to create strategies promoting the rights of youth with disabilities.


The youth worked with comic book and disability experts to create the “Silver Scorpion” comic book featuring the world's first disabled superhero who extolls the values of both Syrian and American culture and promotes the empowerment of people with disabilities. The Summit also hosted a three-day writing workshop that produced the first cross-cultural guidebook for implementing the CRPD authored jointly by disability experts from Syria and America.



  • Implementation of cross multilingual and multicultural arts and human rights training workshops
  • The production and the writing of a manual entitled “Ensuring Rights in Development”.
  • Understanding of the concept of “adolescent agency”.


  • No accessible transportation could be procured in Syria
  • Local accessible lodging was very difficult to find, so conference had to take place at expensive international hotel.

Lessons Learned

When asked, “If you could have any superpower, what would it be?” none of the youth participants (all of whom had disabilities) provided the ones that you would expect – flying, reading minds, or being super strong. Instead, each of their ideas was so originally distinct, whether the Syrian kids or the U.S. kids. Perhaps because of their disabilities, the young people think as individuals without being influenced by outsiders. One girl, for example, wanted to have the power to combine the energy of the moon and the sun. It was noteworthy that none of the young people wanted the hero's power to be something that cured their disability. The Silver Scorpion ended up being an Arab boy who loses his legs in an accident but develops the power to control metal with his mind.

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