From 27 to 29 October 2023 the Annual General Assembly (AGA) of EDSA took place in Madrid. After 3 years of online meetings, this was the first time after the pandemic that we could meet again in presence.
It was a very nice meeting with 37 participants from 21 different European countries representing 25 EDSA member organizations. Further participants (among i.a. from Romania and Ukraine) were present online.
The AGA took place in the premises of the Fundacion Aprocor, which works for the inclusion of people with disabilities. José Gutiérrez from Down España and also our EDSA Board member was responsible for the organization of the event and we thank him very much for all his work.
We could welcome a new member: Down Syndrome Association from Georgia. The association had recently submitted all the necessary papers for membership. Now two representatives from Georgia came to Madrid and could present the association, their work and tell us about the situation in their country.
We were also very pleased to welcome two representatives from DS Ukraine. Even though the situation in their country is still terrible, it was good to hear that DS Ukraine continues to do its best to support people with DS and their families. EDSA will continue to try to support the association as much as possible.
During the AGA the reports of EDSA’s president, the treasurer and the operational secretary were presented. Also the reports from DS Turkey about the social media activities and AIPD Rome presented the report about EDSAs newsletter and their support by handling EU-projects.Dinka Vukovic presented EDSAs agenda for the next few years, especially a better communication and exchange with and among members is in focus. For example, a new format is to be started, in addition to four webinars per year, another four online meetings are planned where an exchange will take place on a specific topic with the interested EDSA members.
Election of EDSA Board 2023-2026
The main item on the agenda was the election of a new board. Before the election, all board members were asked whether they wanted to keep their position or not and all EDSA members were asked whether they wanted to nominate candidates for the work in the board.
As there were as many interested candidates as there were board seats, a list with a proposal could be compiled before the AGA and presented to the participants during the meeting.This proposal was approved and we are happy to have again a dedicated, competent group of people who have committed to be active for EDSA for the next 3 years.
At each AGA time is allocated for the latest news from the scientific community. As before, Jacqueline London – who works as a scientist and will serve as a senior board observer for EDSA – presented results from recent studies and shared up-to-date information with attendees.
During AGA member associations have the opportunity to present their society, an activity or an interesting project. There were presentations from Georgia, Sweden, Ukraine, Norway, Romania, Malta and Portugal.
At the end of the first day, a visit to an inclusive rugby club was on the agenda. The participants even had the opportunity to participate in the training. Afterwards, our host Down España invited us for a snack and a drink in a typical rugby pub.During the breaks and the joint activities there was time to exchange experiences, to pass on information and to deepen the private contacts.
All in all, this was a very successful annual meeting, which inspired and motivated us to continue the work for people with DS all over Europe.