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- Tim Martin, CEO & President of Special Olympics Arizona

Zero Project

What is Zero Project?

The Zero Project focuses on the rights of persons with disabilities globally.  Its sole objective is to assist in creating a world without barriers.  Every year, the Zero Project concentrates on a theme from the United Nations Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities (UN CRPD).  The annual Zero Project Report presents the Policies & Practices that have been selected as the most innovative in their approach to that year’s theme.   In 2016 the project will concentrate on inclusive education and accessible and inclusive information and communication technology (ICTs.)  As of today, more than 3,000 experts around the world have contributed to the initiative. The Zero Project was initiated by the Essl Foundation in 2010 and has been running in partnership with the World Future Council since 2011 and with the European Foundation Centre since 2013. 

The Essl Foundation is a family foundation which focuses on the social welfare of persons with disabilities across the globe and ensuring that countries and country states are implementing the most vital articles in the UN CRPD.

In July of 2015, Special Olympics Arizona nominated its Unified Program as an Innovative Inclusive Education Practice.  The Unified Program accomplishes seed change and school culture shift toward inclusion through awareness and advocacy activites led by youth with and without disabilities, school-based inclusive sports, inclusive social clubs, inclusive physical education, inclusive health education, and peer-to-peer messaging.  The goal of the Unified Program is to positively impact the acceptance and inclusion of people with intellectual disabilities in educational settings and communities, reduce bullying and exclusion, promote healthy activity and interactions, combat stereotypes and stigma, eliminate hurtful language in schools, and engage young people in pro-social activities that lead to improved behavior and school climate.

By July 10, 2015, 337 nominations from 98 countries were received by Zero Project.  Initial review created a shortlist of 200 nominations.  More than 2,000 experts from the Zero Project network of experts voted on the shortlisted nominations as the next step in the selection process; bringing the number of pre-selected nominations down to 100.  Selection criteria included innovation, output and impact, evidence of benefit, transferability and cost-efficiency.

The selection process concluded with in-depth research by the Zero Project Team on every pre-selected nomination.  Finally, 99 nominations were chosen as the Most Innovative Policies and Practices for 2016.  Special Olympics Arizona (SOAZ) was honored to learn, on December 4th, that the Unified Program had been chosen as an Innovative Practice in Education and would be included in the 2016 Zero Project Report and would be presented at the 2016 Zero Project Conference in Vienna, Austria.

The fifth Zero Project Conference on Inclusive Education and ICT will take place February 10-12, 2016 at the United Nations building in Vienna, Austria.  The event will bring together nearly 500 inspiring and engaged policy makers, academics, UN staff, representatives of DPOs, NGOs, foundations, social entrepreneurs, development partners and other experts from around the globe.  The aim of the conference is both, to advance and help in the implementation of the right to inclusive education, and also support the most innovative information and communication technologies.

Learn more about SOAZ’s involvement with Zero Project
Download and read the 2016 Zero Project Report

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