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Turning Words into Action

Children belong in families,
not orphanages

An ambitious project bringing together children and young people with intellectual disabilities 


Children with intellectual disabilities are one of the groups that suffer the greatest disadvantage in society. That is why the World Health Organisation, in partnership with people with disabilities and NGOs across Europe, including Lumos, developed the Declaration 'Better Health, Better Lives: children and young people with intellectual disabilities and their families'.

Signed by 53 European countries, this Declaration sets out ten priorities which, if put into practice, would contribute to the full inclusion in society of all children with intellectual disabilities across the European region.

However, in spite of this commitment to protect the rights of children with intellectual disabilities, children’s quality of life will not change unless the Declaration is implemented in practice.

That’s why Lumos created the Turning Words into Action project.

This ambitious project ran 2011- 2013 and brought together children and young people with intellectual disabilities, their parents, policy makers and health and educational professionals in Bulgaria, the Czech Republic and Serbia with the aim of bringing the ‘Better Health, Better Lives’ Declaration to life through meaningful and effective child participation activities and outcomes.

The project, funded by the European Commission Social Innovation Fund, supported young people to become spokespeople and started the process of giving them the opportunity to influence and advise on how to implement the declaration in their own countries. It also, for the first time, provided these young people with the opportunity to interact with policy makers and discuss issues around their disabilities as equal partners. In this way, the goal of the project was to ensure that the Declaration achieves real impact by demonstrating how it can be used to improve governments’ and societies’ approaches to caring for children with intellectual disabilities, providing a template for other countries to follow.

As a result of the project we supported


  • Direct empowerment of the children and young people through participation in the project;
  • Preliminary influence upon policy and practices in Bulgaria, the Czech Republic and Serbia, with action taken towards implementation of the Better Health, Better Lives Declaration; and
  • Young people, parents, professionals and politicians to find new ways of working, giving them positive experiences of working together to build a more equal society.

Three publications were created as part of the project 


The Turning Words into Action project was funded by the European Commission Social Innovation Fund.