Last weekend representatives from LPUK attended the 2016 International Dwarfism Leadership Summit, in Berlin, along with fellow dwarfism leaders from around the world. To talk about a wide variety of issues associated with dwarfism, and running organisations in their own country.
There were representatives from over 20 countries, with attendees travelling from as far as Australia and New Zealand. Representing LPUK were: Warwick Davis (President), Sam Davis (Chairperson), Penny Dean (Adoption co-ordinator) and Rebecca Nuttall (Charity Administrator).
The focus on the first morning were the introductions; where representatives from each organisation were given 3 minutes to briefly introduce their organisation, this gave us the opportunity to see the wide variety of representations across the world, and how each different organisation fits in to their country and dwarfism community. The afternoon session was used to discuss two topics; firstly, the structure and support models of the different organisations, to pass on knowledge and learn from others, to improve each of our own organisations. LPUK were asked to prepare an 8 minute presentation to share our best practices, for other groups to learn from and implement. This allowed for discussion, meaning LPUK could also take away some tips from other groups, and start to apply them within our structure. The second topic of the afternoon was the discussion of global awareness, and how dwarfism representations differ within each country. Including the representation of little people with the public, media, social networks etc. and how we can work together to dismiss any negative representations and present people with dwarfism in a positive light. There was also in-depth discussions regarding how to attract new members and retain previous members, there were a wide variety of thoughts on this, with every country seemingly have the same issue. All groups decided to work on this, and share their knowledge at subsequent events.
During the evening of the first day, there was time for attendees to socialise, in a more relaxed environment, during the buffet dinner. There was a fantastic positive atmosphere, with many discussions and ideas being shared amongst new friends.
The second morning was focussed on the medical issues which are apparent within the dwarfism community, with presentations from two, well renowned doctors from America; Dr Hoover-Fong and Dr McKenzie. Both giving presentations on common skeletal dysplasia and sharing information regarding the most prevalent types. During these presentations there was lots of active discussion, with questions from delegates and useful information from the medical professionals, which can be taken back to the members of the different organisations around the world, to better develop their medical knowledge for the benefit of their members. The first session of the afternoon was used to discuss various International and National issues, one topic was that of adoption, with the adoption co-ordinators from both LPA and LPUK offering their advice, experience and knowledge of how the adoption processes work in their respective countries, and offering delegates the chance to ask questions on how ideas can be applied, along with how the process can develop, to improve adoption worldwide. This was followed by discussions on advocacy, led by LPA and their work on challenging incorrect terminology with regards to a school mascot. Which gave lots of food for thought on other issues around such subject matter, which may be relevant to others.
The final part of the event was to discuss, as a group, the expectations of the weekend and whether these had been met, followed by how all groups present can work as a coalition to improve the lives of people with dwarfism around the world. There were several proposals made, including; an exchange program, running a similar event to this summit for members speaking alternative languages, creation of an event planning committee to organise the next summit, and the implementation of World Dwarfism Awareness Day, on 25th October. It was agreed that all groups would work together on this to help raise awareness simultaneously worldwide and a statement will be drawn up by members of LPA, which will be used by all representatives present, to show support and raise awareness on a larger scale.
Representatives from LPUK had a great time in Berlin, we are still all so excited about the positivity of the weekend and we sincerely look forward to the next meeting. It was a privilege to meet representatives from other dwarfism groups from around the world, to discuss pertinent issues in the LP community, and we are also very much looking forward to working together as a coalition, to help improve the lives of people with dwarfism in our country, and worldwide, to offer medical and social support, and make the world an even better place for people with dwarfism.
A huge thank you to Little People of America (LPA) for organising such a fantastic weekend, and of course Berlin for hosting it. We at LPUK look forward to working as a coalition to make improvements for the future of people with dwarfism.