ZERO Award 2020 for Innovative Practice in Parent Empowerment

ELPIDA, the first project some of the Parenting Together (PAT) consortium members (FORTH, Parents International and PUZZLE) worked on, an online platform supporting parents of people with intellectual disabilities was nominated and shortlisted for the ZERO Award 2020 as an Innovative Practice and won the prize. In 2020 they were looking for innovations that allow young persons with disabilities to access education opportunities. The theme covers a variety of education levels and types and includes such themes as early childhood intervention, primary and secondary schools, university education, vocational training, as well as education in emergency and disaster situation.

The assessment praised ELPIDA for the following: most approaches to supporting persons with intellectual disabilities are focused either on the people themselves or on the professionals who work with them, while overlooking the importance of training parents and guardians. The ELPIDA project meets the training and support needs of parents and guardians of persons with intellectual disabilities by offering an evidence-based online course about their children’s rights and needs. By educating parents, the project aims to create a positive secondary effect on the quality of life of persons with intellectual disabilities. And PAT is aiming for continuing this work for a new target group of parents, that of younger children.

The Parents International team of four people represented the ELPIDA Consortium at the ZERO Conference 2020 held at the United Nations Centre in Vienna on 19-21 February 2020. The event brought together over 500 people passionate about accessibility and inclusion from all over the world. The conference focused on education and showcased innovative, inspiring practices and policies. Unfortunately, all policies introduced focused on schooling only, but there was an opportunity to meet like-minded people representing practice with a holistic approach to education. There were some interesting examples of engaging with parents. It was a great honour to receive the ZERO Award, and we believe that it will give leverage to our plans for further developing ELPIDA and work on the inclusion of parents with disabled children as well as disabled parents, but it is partly because we have made some new friends in Vienna in these 3 day.

By attending the conference, we have learnt about a number of innovative, holistic, inclusive education practices, started collaboration with some programmes targeting parents in India, Singapore and Ireland. Parents International also got invited to the Access Israel 2020 conference (unfortunately postponed due to restrictions) and to Zanzibar, to support their work with parents in education.

It was the ZERO2020 Conference where the first seeds of PAT were planted when Parents International and Kincső met and started discussing collaboration.

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©Pepo Schuster,


The Zero Project was initiated by the Essl Foundation in 2008 and focuses on the rights of persons with disabilities globally. It is a platform where the most innovative and effective solutions to problems that persons with disabilities face, are shared. Its mission is to support the implementation of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UN CRPD) and to work for a world without barriers.

It takes a solutions-based approach. Together with a continuously growing network of over 4,000 experts, with and without disabilities, in over 150 countries, the project seeks to identify the most innovative and effective Policies and Practices that improve the lives of persons with disabilities and to tell the world about those Policies & Practices.

Throughout the year, these solution-oriented approaches are disseminated to decision makers and opinion leaders worldwide and present the results of our research at various national and international conferences, for example, at Side Events at the annual Conference of State Parties to UN CRPD in New York.

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. It also evaluated just how the UN CRPD is being implemented around the world.