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A new edition of the Turkish Airlines ENGAGE Empowering League, the main wheelchair basketball event in the country, will start on June 2nd and will run till June 30th.

For the first time there will be also teams from Pokhara, Nepalgunj and Chitwan in addition to a new women team recently established in the Valley bringing the overall the number ofteams to fourteen, five female and nine for male.

This year league will played under the motto “Fair Game for Nepal, Make disability rights REAL” focused on creating awareness on the implementation of the new Disable People’s Rights Act that was passed by the Parliament last August.


We envision the League as a platform to involve a variety of stakeholders so that people will come to realization about the daily violations of the rights of their fellow citizens living with disabilities: inaccessible spaces, not adequately inclusive schools and lack of job opportunities.


At its foundations the belief that only reaching out and engaging other segments of the population will help persons with disabilities to reclaim their rights and strengthen their level of agency, helping them reclaim their role in the society.


Partnerships are really instrumental on this overarching goal. Obviously I am referring to the private sector as several business houses including not only international brands as Turkish Airlines, the Title Sponsor of the League and Fairfield by Marriot, the Hospitality Partner, but also local ones like Nabil Bank, Four Season Travel & Tours, Civil Bank, D-Lifestyles and several entities of BLC Group, including Norvic Hospital.


Working with private sector is always very important to break the still very tick “glass ceiling” separating youths with disabilities from job opportunities but it is also equally key ensuring that more and more persons will know about the League.


For this reason, the League will have a great array of civil society actors engaged as Out Reach Partners, including AYON, Teach for Nepal, AIESEC, NSCISA, The Duke of Edinburgh International Award, MSI and also The Rose International Fund for Children and Thames International College.


The League would not be possible without the contributions of Governance Facility and Embassy of Switzerland both believing in the power of sports to bridge the existing gaps between able and disable persons.


And yet we are not done in terms of partnerships. Probably the most powerful partnership being forged through the event is the one between youths with and without disabilities.


The former will be involved in different roles: we will have the ENGAGE Sport Coaches, local youths who love basketball and decide to serve local wheelchair basketball teams participating in the League; we will have the over forty League Volunteers who will take care of all the logistics and without which the League would not be possible.


The League will also be about students involved in local clubs from different colleges that after receiving trainings will be supported to implement small community actions to promote disability rights.


The latter, youths with disabilities, will not only compete for glory but very importantly will work hard to sensitize people on their newly acquired rights.


In this regard, schools will have a very important role: they will not only host the games but also the awareness programs where players will interact with local students, making a strong case for the implementation of the new Act.


Ensuring such a variety of actors engaged is really fundamental because behavioral changes will happen when perceptions and attitudes will be challenged and this will only be possible when old stereotypes will be turned around and proven wrong.


As Abdullah Tuncer Kececi, General Manager at Turkish Airlines in Nepal and one of the strongest supporters of the League since day one said “The League is really about trying forging new connections and friendships. The League is a bridge that allows persons with disabilities to emerge and showcase their talents. It is also about the incredible work of local youths united for the cause. We need now a strong response of the public to raise the visibility of persons with disabilities”


The League is about everyone because it is everyone’s interest to make the country more inclusive and diverse. This will not happen without meaningful partnerships.


Galimberti is the Co-Founder of ENGAGE, an NGO partnering with youths living with disabilities. He can be reached at simone_engage@yahoo.com


Position: Co -Founder of ENGAGE,a new social venture for the promotion of volunteerism and service and Ideator of Sharing4Good

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